09/10/2021 at 4:12 PM CEST
Almost 60% of fossil oil and methane gas and almost 90% of coal must remain in the ground, untapped industrially, by 2050 if there is to be a 50% chance of keeping global warming below an increase in 1.5 ° C and thus be able to save the climate, according to a study by researchers from University College London (UCL).
According to the researchers, global oil and gas production must decline by 3% annually until 2050 to reach this goal. But the amount of Current fossil fuel extraction initiatives, both existing and planned, will not meet the limits established internationally on global warming by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.
Therefore, a significant number of regions have already peaked in fossil fuel production, and any increase that occurs in one region must be offset by a further decline in production elsewhere, the researchers note.
The study, published in Nature, is only based on what should be done to have a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5 ° C this century, but if you want to increase the probability of reaching this goal you would need a decrease even faster production and a greater amount of fossil fuels without being extracted from the ground.
The researchers used a global energy system model to assess the amount of fossil fuels that should be left unexploited regionally and globally.
“Drastic” cuts before 2050
The reserves that should not be extracted are calculated as a percentage of the total existing reserves in 2018. That The amount that should be left intact should be 58% for oil, 59% for fossil methane gas and 89% for coal, all before 2050.
Lead author Dan Welsby (UCL Institute of Sustainable Resources) has stated that “in 2015, 196 parties signed the Paris Climate Agreement, aiming to keep the average global temperature rise well below 2 ° C, with 1.5 ° C as desired target & rdquor ;.
Since then, the Special Report of the IPCC Scientific Panel, successive production reports and the IEA Net Zero Report indicate that “Drastic cuts & rdquor; in the production of fossil fuels, and also immediately, to move towards net zero emissions.
But the fossil fuel production lines are not heading in the right direction for it; on the contrary, they seem to go in the wrong direction.
“Our new article adds more weight to recent research, indicating that global production of fossil methane oil and gas has already peaked. From a regional perspective, our results demonstrate the need for a transition for large fossil fuel producers. Oil production in the Middle East, for example, should be halved between 2020 and 2050, which means diversifying the economy away from hydrocarbons, “he added.
The work builds on previous research from 2015, which found that to limit warming to 2 ° C, a third of oil reserves, almost half of fossil methane gas reserves (49%) and more than 80% of carbon reserves should remain in the ground.
The researchers used the TIMES Integrated Assessment Model at UCL (TIAM-UCL). The model monitors primary energy sources (oil, fossil methane gas, coal, nuclear, biomass and renewable energies) from production to transformation (such as electricity, hydrogen and biofuel production or oil refining) and also distribution for satisfy the set of demand in each sector.
The countries of the world are distributed in the study in 16 regions, which allows a detailed characterization of the regional energy sectors. The model evaluated different scenarios, including lower demands in key carbon-intensive sectors (aviation and chemicals) and the uncertainty around the availability and deployment of key carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) technologies and negative emissions. (NET).
In terms of the regional distribution of intractable fossil fuel reserves, the researchers note that The Middle East must leave about 60% of oil and gas reserves unexploited, which, given the large size of its reserve base, will also represent huge absolute volumes.
In addition, regions with high concentrations of relatively high-cost, high-carbon oil deposits also have high proportions of hydrocarbon that should not be extracted, including oil sands in Canada (83%) and ultra-heavy oil in Central America. and from the South (73%).
Regional differences in the proportion of fossil fuels that must remain unextracted are due to a combination of factors including extraction costs, the carbon intensity of production, and the costs of alternative technologies to fossil fuels.
Welsby added: “Our estimates of inextractable reserves and rates of production decline are probably underestimated, given that we work using only a 50% probability of reaching 1.5 ° C and with enormous uncertainty about the deployment of negative emissions technologies. However, if there is a political will to meet the commitments made in Paris, the reductions in fossil fuels suggested in our paper are fully feasible.
Reference study: DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-021-03821-8
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