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Close fossil fuel production sites early to avoid climate chaos, study says | Fossil fuels


According to a new scientific study, almost half of existing fossil fuel production needs to be shut down early if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, an internationally agreed target that avoids climate catastrophe.

The assessment goes further a call from the International Energy Agency in 2021 stop all new fossil fuel developments to avoid the worst effects of global warming, a statement that at the time was seen as radical.

A new study comes to a more serious conclusion, not assuming that new technologies will be able to suck a huge amount of CO2 from the atmosphere to compensate for the combustion of coal, oil and gas. Experts believe that relying on such technologies is a risky game.

This was reported by the Guardian last week 195 oil and gas “coal bombs” planned by the industry. This means projects, each of which will produce at least 1 billion tons of CO2. Together, these carbon bombs alone would lead to global warming beyond 1.5 degrees. But the top ten oil companies intend to spend $ 103 million (£ 81 million) a day by 2030 on climate reduction schemes.

Greg Mathit of the International Institute for Sustainable Development was one of the leaders of the new study and said: “Suspending new mining projects is a necessary step, but still not enough to stay within our rapidly shrinking carbon budget. Some existing licenses and production of fossil fuels should be revoked and phased out. Governments need to start a frontal struggle on how to do this in a fair and equitable way, which will require overcoming the opposition to the interests of fossil fuels. “

Kelly Trout, s Butter Change International, another lead author, said: “Our study confirms that building a new fossil fuel infrastructure is not a viable response to Russia’s war against Ukraine. The world has already used too much oil and gas. ” Researchers said governments should accelerate the introduction of renewable energy and efficiency measures.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Studies Letters, analyzed a database of more than 25,000 oil and gas fields and developed a new set of data on coal mines. Researchers have found that deposits and mines that have already been developed will produce 936 billion tons of CO2 at full operation and incineration. This is 25 years of global emissions at today’s pace – world scientists agree that emissions should be halved by 2030.

Researchers have estimated that 40% of the fossil fuel produced must remain in the ground to have a 50-50 chance of global temperature stopping at 1.5 degrees. Half of the emissions will come from coal, a third from oil and a fifth from gas. Researchers found that almost 90% of the developed reserves are in only 20 countries, led by China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States, followed by Iran, India, Indonesia, Australia and Canada.

The study looked at only projects where companies made final investment decisions, meaning they pledged billions to build drilling rigs and pipelines for fossil fuels. A 2021 study by Daniel Wellsby of University College London assessed all known stocks and identified 90% of coal and 60% of oil and gas must remain unused.

Wellsby said: “The new study is a valuable contribution to our understanding of what fossil fuels are likely to be produced and the amount that should remain in the ground if global warming is limited.” But he noted that the study does not fully take into account methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, or oil and gas used to produce petrochemicals.

The study does not estimate how much CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere by technology in the future. “These technologies are not proven on a scale,” Matit said. “There are a lot talk about them, but we believe it would be a mistake to assume that the achievement of climate goals will be achieved on a very large scale. We just don’t know if it will be possible in terms of funding or management. “

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Maeve O’Connor of the Carbon Tracker think tank, authored by Fr. new reportsaid: “Oil and gas companies are playing on emissions [reducing] technologies that pose a huge risk to both investors and the climate. Most of these technologies are still in the early stages of development, and several major projects are operating on the scale required by the company’s goals, while solutions involving tree planting require huge areas of land. ”

A study published in 2019 showed that the world already has more fossil fuel power plants than needed and that some may need to retire early. A new analysis has shown that fossil fuel production sites should also be closed, however how to do it still to be determined.

“This is an absolutely key issue,” Matit said. “One of the biggest barriers will be the legal infrastructure that oil and gas companies and some coal companies have built to protect their investments and their profitability, through contracts such as the Energy Charter Treaty [ECT]». ECT allows companies sue the government for lost profits. He said there were some discussions that the European Union could withdraw en masse from the treaty.

A small number of governments, including Denmark, Costa Rica, France, Ireland and California, have pledged to stop issuing new fossil fuel licenses. If more join, it could change the game, Matit said.

Dan Jorgensen, Danish Minister of Climate and Energy, said: Outside the oil and gas alliance enables governments to work together to begin a controlled phasing out of oil and gas production to avoid dangerous levels of climate change. ”


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