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Fossil Fuels

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 56871, tabled on 9 December 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the proportion of known fossil fuels which need to be left in the ground to prevent global temperature change above two degrees centigrade.

Answered on

19 December 2016

In 2013 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that to have a 50 percent chance of limiting global average temperature rise to below 2°C, the remaining permissible carbon emissions were up to 305 billion tonnes of Carbon for the period 2011 to 2100. According to the latest estimate of cumulative emission by the Global Carbon Project in 2016, this figure has reduced to 255 billion tonnes of Carbon.

In 2011 the IPCC estimated the amount of carbon within existing proven reserves of coal, oil and gas to be 1,053 billion tonnes.

Based on these figures, between 70-75 percent of known fossil fuels would have to be left unused in order to have a 50% chance of limiting global temperature rise to below 2°C.