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Fossil Fuels

Question for Department for Energy and Climate Change

UIN 210525, tabled on 14 October 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what estimate he has made of the proportion of existing global fossil fuel reserves that can be burned in order to achieve Government's international policy of limiting global temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

21 October 2014

In 2013 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that, if we are more likely than not to limit global average temperature rise to 2°C, the remaining permissible carbon emissions are 305 billion tonnes of carbon for the period 2011 to 2100, taking into account both CO2 and non-CO2 forcing factors. Carbon within existing proven reserves of conventional and unconventional coal, oil, and gas were estimated by the IPCC in 2011 to be 1,053 billion tonnes.

Burning a greater proportion of fossil fuel reserves could be consistent with the 2°C goal if there was significant future global uptake of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, to markedly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel plants at source. The Government’s CCS programme aims to bring forward this technology at a commercial scale in the UK.

Answered by

Department for Energy and Climate Change