Effects of New Fossil Fuel Developments on Meeting 2°C Scenarios

Published: 22/01/2013

Recent years have seen an increasing activity in developing new fossil fuel production capacity. This includes unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands and shale gas, fossil fuels from remote locations, and fossil fuels with a very large increase in production in the near future. In this Ecofys report by order of Greenpeace International, the impact of such developments on our ability to mitigate climate change is investigated.

Our inventory shows that the new fossil fuel developments currently underway consist of 29,400 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 260,000 million barrels of oil and 49,600 million tonnes of coal. The development of these new fossil fuels would result in emissions of 300 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) from 2012 until 2050.

Until 2050, a “carbon budget” of 1550 billion tonnes CO2e is still available if we want to of keep global warming below 2 °C with a 50% probability. For a 75% probability to stay below 2 °C this budget is only 1050 billion tonnes CO2e. So, the new fossil fuel developments identified in this report consume 20 – 33% of the remaining carbon budget until 2050.

In a scenario where the new fossil fuels are developed, we need to embark on a rapid emission reductions pathway at the latest in 2019 in order to meet the 50% probability carbon budget. Avoiding the development of new fossil fuels will give us until 2025 to start further rapid emission reductions.

Please find more information at: greenpeace.org/international/point-of-no-return