It would be a radical withdrawal for a world economy marked by its addiction to fossil fuels. To keep a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 ° C, and thus avoid the worst climatic catastrophes, it would be necessary to leave in the ground nearly 60% of the reserves of oil and gas, and 90% of those of coal of by 2050. Consequences: the production of gas and oil is expected to decline on average by 3% per year in the world until 2050, which implies that the majority of regions reach their peak oil or gas now or at most during the next decade, according to the findings of a study published in Nature, Wednesday, September 8.

The world is currently taking the opposite direction. Fossil energies (coal, oil and gas), whose combustion is responsible for most of global warming, still account for 81% of primary energy demand and their production. continues to progress. Countries forecast an average annual increase of 2% over the next decade, according to the UN report “Production Gap Report”, published at the end of 2020.

“It’s absolutely desperate”, judge Professor Paul Ekins, one of the authors of the study published in Nature, researcher like his colleagues at University College London. “We’re a long way from the Paris target in terms of the fossil fuels people plan to produce. Whenever oil or gas is found, every government in the world, no matter what they say, tries to get it out of the ground. ” During the Paris agreement of 2015, the States committed to limiting global warming to well below 2 ° C and if possible to 1.5 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era – a trajectory that we are not following not currently, while the climate objectives of the countries are so far insufficient.

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Strong declines today

This study updates previous work, published in 2015 before the Paris agreement, who had calculated the quantities of fossil fuels not to be exploited in order to have a chance of limiting the warming to 2 ° C. They concluded that 33% of oil reserves, 49% of gas and 88% of coal must remain unused. “With the limit of 1.5 ° C, it is almost twice as much oil that must remain underground”, notes Daniel Welsby, lead author of the study.

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