Fossil Fuel Extraction Must be Kept Bare Minimum to Meet Paris Agreement Goal: Study

·2-min read

Global Warming, a pressing issue, was proliferated in the discourse surrounding the planet’s health through the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. One of the primary goals of the agreement, conferred by 196 parties of the UNFCC COP, was to limit the global rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial levels. A new study conducted at the University College London (UCL) has suggested a few conditions, which, if not met, could deter the world from reaching the goal set in the Paris Climate Agreement.

The findings point at a rapid decline of the fossil fuels’ extractions and emissions to reach even a 50 percent probability of making it to the goal.

According to the study, the decline must reach an annual figure of 3 percent.

Using the global energy system model called the TIMES Integrated Assessment Model at UCL (TIAM-UCL), the researchers devised a particular amount of fossil fuels that need to remain untouched and unexcavated. According to them, almost 60 percent of the existing oil and fossil methane gas and as much as 90 percent of coal needs to stay unused to be on track.

“The global oil and fossil methane gas production has already reached its highest point. The IPCC report and our new papers indicate beyond doubt that the current fuel production trajectories are moving in the wrong direction. A drastic decline is needed immediately in order to achieve net-zero emissions,” Dan Welsby, lead author of the study, said in a press release.

Apart from giving the desirable numbers required on a global level to reach the targeted temperatures, it also mentions the needed reduction for various major oil-producing regions across the globe. As per the global analysis, the world is divided into 16 regions that are the energy sectors fuelling the world. The TIAM-UCL factored in carbon-intensive sectors, deployment and availability of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), and Negative Emission Technologies (NET) to come up with region-wise desired proportions of unexcavated reserves.

According to the research, Regions in the Middle East need to keep roughly 60 percent of their fossil fuel reserves unextracted, which amounts to humongous volumes of fuel, considering the gigantic size of their reserve base. Coming to the regions with a high concentration of high-carbon intensive deposits of oil, the oil sands of Canada need to keep almost 83 percent of the reserves under the ground and away from reaching the production stage.

Regions falling in Central and South America with heavy oil reserves have to maintain the unextracted fuel reserves to around 73 percent. The study notes that the proportions suggested in it are a result of influence from various factors such as the carbon intensity of production, extraction costs, and the costs of technologies acting as an alternative to fossil fuels.

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