World Energy Outlook shares scary math of fossil fuel reserves

• November 14, 2012
Tar Sands Refinery

Creative Commons: Evolve Love, 2011

The International Energy Agency released its annual flagship publication today, the World Energy Outlook. The IEA made an historic statement in the executive summary.

It said, “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal”, the internationally recognized limit to average global warming in order to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Let me rephrase that.  Over two-thirds of today’s proven reserves of fossil fuels need to still be in the ground in 2050 in order to prevent catastrophic levels of climate change.

We congratulate the IEA for recognizing this crucial point and encourage the organization to prioritize this message in its presentations and public messaging. It is especially important given that the world’s fossil fuel industry is working overtime to increase its proven reserve base.

Let’s take the Canadian tar sands industry as an example. As the chart below shows,the tar sands industry has enough projects producing, under construction and approved to blow well past the climate limits prescribed by the IEA. Nevertheless even more projects are lined up for regulatory approval leading to a possible trebling of production capacity over and above the IEA limit.

Read more: Oil Change International >>


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TckTckTck is the online hub for the Global Call for Climate Action. The GCCA represents an unprecedented alliance of more than 400 nonprofit organizations from around the world. Our shared mission is to mobilize civil society and galvanize public support to ensure a safe climate future for people and nature, to promote the low-carbon transition of our economies, and to accelerate the adaptation efforts in communities already affected by climate change.

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