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Most known fossil fuel reserves must remain unused to meet climate change targets

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h82 (Published 08 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h82
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Most of the known reserves of fossil fuels need to remain in the ground if global warming is to stay below 2°C by 2050, a new analysis has found.

A third of oil reserves, half of gas, and 80% of coal need to stay unburnt to keep global temperatures within 2°C of the pre-industrial average, a target accepted as adequate to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, two scientists from the Institute for Sustainable Resources at University College London have said in a paper in Nature.1

The implication is that if governments are serious about meeting the target they will have to abandon plans to exploit their fossil fuel reserves to the maximum. Moreover, exploring for new supplies, such …

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