The Geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2°C

ArticleinNature 517(7533):187-90 · January 2015with 1,371 Reads
DOI: 10.1038/nature14016 · Source: PubMed
Abstract
Policy makers have generally agreed that the average global temperature rise caused by greenhouse gas emissions should not exceed 2 °C above the average global temperature of pre-industrial times. It has been estimated that to have at least a 50 per cent chance of keeping warming below 2 °C throughout the twenty-first century, the cumulative carbon emissions between 2011 and 2050 need to be limited to around 1,100 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2). However, the greenhouse gas emissions contained in present estimates of global fossil fuel reserves are around three times higher than this, and so the unabated use of all current fossil fuel reserves is incompatible with a warming limit of 2 °C. Here we use a single integrated assessment model that contains estimates of the quantities, locations and nature of the world's oil, gas and coal reserves and resources, and which is shown to be consistent with a wide variety of modelling approaches with different assumptions, to explore the implications of this emissions limit for fossil fuel production in different regions. Our results suggest that, globally, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80 per cent of current coal reserves should remain unused from 2010 to 2050 in order to meet the target of 2 °C. We show that development of resources in the Arctic and any increase in unconventional oil production are incommensurate with efforts to limit average global warming to 2 °C. Our results show that policy makers' instincts to exploit rapidly and completely their territorial fossil fuels are, in aggregate, inconsistent with their commitments to this temperature limit. Implementation of this policy commitment would also render unnecessary continued substantial expenditure on fossil fuel exploration, because any new discoveries could not lead to increased aggregate production.
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    L'estrazione di petrolio e gas in aree ad elevata biodiversità comporta una serie di impatti significativi su specie ed ecosistemi, quali la contaminazione del suolo, dell'acqua e dell'aria, la deforestazione, la frammentazione degli habitat. Anche in Italia vi sono attività petrolifere che interessano aree ad alta biodiversità. È il caso della concessione "Val d'Agri", in Basilicata, che si sviluppa sul giacimento di petrolio onshore più grande d'Europa, interessando diversi siti della Rete Europea Natura 2000 e il Parco Nazionale Appennino Lucano Val d'Agri Lagonegrese. Il volume offre un quadro articolato delle attività petrolifere presenti nella concessione, dei documenti e degli Studi di Impatto Ambientale. L'analisi è stata effettuata applicando al caso di studio le linee guida LIPIM, elaborate dall'autore, per l'identificazione, la valutazione e la mitigazione degli impatti ambientali legati alle attività di estrazione petrolifera in aree continentali ad elevata diversità biologica. Le linee guida LIPIM sono il frutto di un ampio lavoro di raccolta e analisi critica della letteratura tecnico scientifica esistente e rappresentano, per diversi aspetti, un unicum sia a livello nazionale sia internazionale. Alberto Diantini, laurea magistrale in Scienze della Natura, insegnante di Scienze in una scuola superiore e guida naturalistica presso l'Orto Botanico di Padova. Affianca alla passione per l'insegnamento e la didattica naturalistica quella per la ricerca, collaborando con il gruppo di ricerca "Territori delle diversità ecologiche e culturali" presso il Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile Edile e Ambientale dell'Università di Padova, occupandosi di analizzare le relazioni tra attività di estrazione di idrocarburi e territori ad elevata biodiversità in Italia, quali ad esempio la Val d'Agri.
  • Article
    This paper argues that mutually reinforcing relations between states and processes of investment, innovation and technological change are facilitating a global energy transition which is making a contribution to global climate challenge mitigation. This process challenges an existing theory of market-capitalism that argues such a change will be institutionally impeded, in part due to short-termist financial pressures on business. The paper argues instead that a pattern of mutually-reinforcing leads involving state and markets is underway, with markets and price changes likely to reduce the costs of climate mitigation and hopefully help embolden states and climate change policy.
  • Article
    Global warming is a critical issue and has great impact on all living organisms, including algae. Generally, algae play significant roles in aquatic ecosystems and employ diverse strategies to survive under abiotic stress. For example, heat stress affects membrane fluidity, and algae, in response, can modify their membrane fatty acid composition to maintain homoeostasis. Moreover, they protect their proteins and enzymes using molecular chaperones or degrade denatured proteins in processes involving ubiquitin. In addition, algae regulate their carbohydrate concentrations and structures to utilise the energy of endogenous carbon sources efficiently and protect other molecules via accumulation of compatible solutes. Algae regulate the photosynthetic machinery to acclimatise to stress conditions. In fact, algae have a range of acclimation and repair strategies; and in the case where these strategies fail, programmed cell death (PCD) will be activated. Among algae, green algae have been massively studied due to their broad-range applications such as pharmaceutical, biofuel production and wastewater management, and being a suitable model to study plant and photosynthesis. Enhanced knowledge about the genes and proteins involved in the acclimation of green algae would enlighten our understanding of their acclimation pathways, and enable the genetic improvement of stress-tolerant strains. Thus, the mechanisms and pathways associated with green algal acclimation and repair strategies with an emphasis on temperature-related stress are highlighted in this review.
  • Article
    Despite scientific consensus on the need to rapidly decarbonize economic systems to limit global warming, the exploitation of fossil fuels continues unabated. This begs the question, why do we continue down this path? We argue that one reason is the way in which fossil fuel expansion is temporally framed. In this article, we examine the disputed development of hydraulic fracturing of shale gas (‘fracking’) in the United Kingdom. Through analysis of a series of public inquiries conducted by the UK Government we show how industry, government and NGOs have engaged in a framing contest in debating the future of fracking. The findings show how the framing of fossil fuel development was solidified over time through processes of certainty, simplicity and familiarity. We contribute by: (a) showing how actors mobilize temporality in constructing persuasive and actionable frames; (b) developing a theory of how frames gain temporal portability – a chronology between a dominant past and a recognized future; and (c) providing an alternative theory of short-termism in explaining the path leading us to a dangerous climate changed future.
  • Article
    The Internet has helped to change who writes about science in the news, how news is written, and how it is taken up by different audiences. However, few studies have examined how these changes have impacted the uptake of scientific claims in online news writing. This case study explores how online news genres take up knowledge claims from a research article on climate change over a period of one year and shows how shifting boundaries between rhetorical communities affect genre uptake. The study results show that online news writers predominantly use the news report genre to cover research findings for 48 hours, after which they predominantly use the news editorial genre to engage these findings. Analysis suggests that the news report genre uses the press release and the article abstract as intermediary genres, but the news editorial uses only the abstract. I argue that the switch between genres repositions the scientist, the journalist, and the public epistemologically, a reorientation that favors uptake in news media outlets supporting action to mitigate climate change and its effects.
  • Article
    Advances in horizontal drilling have significantly increased US oil and gas production, but it is not clear whether the industry is viable if oil prices continue to be low. Researchers now estimate the break-even price for oil and gas from tight formations and analyse the factors that affect investment in drilling rigs.
  • Book
    Cambridge Core - Natural Resource and Environmental Economics - Carbon Markets in a Climate-Changing Capitalism - by Gareth Bryant
  • Article
    Carbon Markets in a Climate-Changing Capitalism - by Gareth Bryant February 2019
  • Preprint
    Full-text available
    Recent global modelling studies suggest a decline of long-distance trade in energy carriers in future global renewable energy systems, compared to today’s fossil fuel energy system. In contrast, we identified four crucial drivers that enable trade of renewable energy carriers. These drivers could make trade remain at current levels or even increase during the transition to an energy system with very high shares of renewables. First, new land-efficient technologies for renewable fuel production become increasingly available and technically allow for long-distance trade in renewables. Second, regional differences in social acceptance and land availability for energy infrastructure support the development of renewable fuel import and export streams. Third, the economics of renewable energy systems, i.e. the different production conditions globally and the high costs of fully renewable regional electricity systems, will create opportunities for spatial arbitrage. Fourth, the reduction of stranded investments in the fossil fuel sector is possible by switching from fossil fuel to renewable fuel trade in exporting regions.The impact of these drivers on trade in energy carriers is currently under-investigated by the global energy research community. Therefore, we call for a major research effort in this field, in particular as trade can redistribute profits and losses of climate change mitigation and may hence support finding new partners in climate change mitigation negotiations.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    nova-Paper #10 zu bio- und CO2-basierter Ökonomie 2018-08
  • Book
    Full-text available
    The edited book is in content equal to the Special Issue of Sustainability. This for an overview see the editorial of the SI, open access at https://doi.org/10.3390/su11040942.
  • Preprint
    Full-text available
    To achieve the ambitious aims of the Paris climate agreement, the majority of fossil-fuel reserves needs to remain underground. As current national government commitments to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions are insufficient by far, actors such as institutional and private investors and the social movement on divestment from fossil fuels could play an important role in putting pressure on national governments on the road to decarbonization. Using a stochastic agent-based model of co-evolving financial market and investors' beliefs about future climate policy on an adaptive social network, here we find that the dynamics of divestment from fossil fuels shows potential for social tipping away from a fossil-fuel based economy. Our results further suggest that socially responsible investors have leverage: a small share of 10--20\,\% of such moral investors is sufficient to initiate the burst of the carbon bubble, consistent with the Pareto Principle. These findings demonstrate that divestment has potential for contributing to decarbonization alongside other social movements and policy instruments, particularly given the credible imminence of strong international climate policy. Our analysis also indicates the possible existence of a carbon bubble with potentially destabilizing effects to the economy.
  • Preprint
    Full-text available
    This paper sets out how passive funds can make a full contribution to mitigating climate change. As a growing number of institutional asset owners are divesting from coal assets, index funds are becoming the holders of last resort. The common wisdom has it that index funds cannot sell out of individual stock holdings. They have a "voice" but no ability to "exit." This paper investigates the relationship between index providers and index funds and finds the traditional understanding that index investors cannot sell to be false. Instead an increasing prevalence of index investors switching both indices and index providers is noted. Such changes provide investors with the opportunity to exclude specific stocks. Indeed, a discussion of where shareholder responsibility sits in the modern-day investment chain highlights the pivotal role of asset managers. This paper therefore suggests a number of solutions for index funds to reduce the carbon intensity of their funds, such as switching the indices their funds employ, discontinuing niche ETFs that are carbon intensive, reducing fees on low-carbon investments, or making use of their financial clout as index providers' biggest customers to advocate for selective index amendments. Adding the threat of exit will increase the power of voice. Doing so will ensure, that rather than functioning as insulators from sustainability pressures, they act as conductors.
  • Chapter
    The article aims to assess how introduction of carbon tax will impact oil production in Canada in the long run. Two oil exporting countries, Norway and Canada, introduced carbon tax in 1991 and 2018 respectively. In Norway carbon tax has not constrained oil production and development of costly hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic areas. We build a simple econometric model for Canada’s oil demand and supply until 2040 in reference and low carbon scenarios. Carbon tax is explicitly inbuilt into the model based on the assumption that producers fully pass costs of carbon tax onto consumers of petroleum products. Demand is modelled bottom-up individually for economic sectors, including road transport, air transport, marine and water transport, industry, commercial sector, etc. On the basis of modelling results we argue that in the projection period carbon tax will have a minor constraining impact on oil production growth in Canada. Demand for petroleum products will contract more deeply compared to crude oil production. The continuously increasing export orientation of the Canadian oil sector will partially shield it from the carbon tax. Given the global advancement of low carbon paradigm, analysis of Norway and Canada experience with carbon tax is crucially important for all large oil producing countries.
  • Article
    Efforts to limit climate change below a given temperature level require that global emissions of CO2 cumulated over time remain below a limited quota. This quota varies depending on the temperature level, the desired probability of staying below this level and the contributions of other gases. In spite of this restriction, global emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion and cement production have continued to grow by 2.5% per year on average over the past decade. Two thirds of the CO2 emission quota consistent with a 2 [deg]C temperature limit has already been used, and the total quota will likely be exhausted in a further 30 years at the 2014 emissions rates. We show that CO2 emissions track the high end of the latest generation of emissions scenarios, due to lower than anticipated carbon intensity improvements of emerging economies and higher global gross domestic product growth. In the absence of more stringent mitigation, these trends are set to continue and further reduce the remaining quota u
  • Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change
    • L Clarke
    Clarke, L. et al. in Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change (Edenhofer, O. et al.) Ch. 6 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).
  • Alberta's Energy Reserves 2013 and Supply/ Demand Outlook 2014–2023. www.aer.ca
    • Alberta Energy
    Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). Alberta's Energy Reserves 2013 and Supply/ Demand Outlook 2014–2023. www.aer.ca/documents/sts/ST98/ST98-2014.pdf (AER, 2014).
  • Bioenergy Review: Technical Paper 2—Global and UK Bioenergy Supply Scenarios
    • A Leatherdale
    Leatherdale, A. et al. Bioenergy Review: Technical Paper 2—Global and UK Bioenergy Supply Scenarios. http://archive.theccc.org.uk/aws2/Bioenergy/1463% 20CCC_Bio-TP2_supply-scen_FINALwithBkMks.pdf (Committee on Climate Change, 2011).
  • Oil and Gas for Beginners
    • L Herrmann
    Herrmann, L. et al. Oil and Gas for Beginners 270–413 (Deutsche Bank, 2013).
  • An Assessment of Potential Additions to Conventional Oil and Gas Resources of the World (outside the United States) from Reserve Growth
    • T R Klett
    Klett, T. R. et al. An Assessment of Potential Additions to Conventional Oil and Gas Resources of the World (outside the United States) from Reserve Growth. http:// pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2012/3052/fs2012-3052.pdf (USGS, 2012).
  • USGS World Petroleum Assessment
    • T Ahlbrandt
    • R Charpentier
    • T Klett
    • J Schmoker
    • C Schenk
    Ahlbrandt, T., Charpentier, R., Klett, T., Schmoker, J. & Schenk, C. USGS World Petroleum Assessment 2000. http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-060/ (USGS, 2000).
  • UKERC Review of Evidence on Global Oil Depletion: Annex 1—Models of global oil supply for the period 2008-2030
    • R Bentley
    • R Miller
    • S Wheeler
    • G Boyle
    Bentley, R., Miller, R., Wheeler, S. & Boyle, G. UKERC Review of Evidence on Global Oil Depletion: Annex 1—Models of global oil supply for the period 2008-2030. http:// www.ukerc.ac.uk/support/tiki-download_file.php?fileId5292 (UKERC, 2009).
  • An Estimate of Undiscovered Conventional Oil and Gas Resources of the World
    • M Brownfield
    • R R Charpentier
    • T Cook
    • D L Gautier
    • D K Higley
    Brownfield, M., Charpentier, R. R., Cook, T., Gautier, D. L. & Higley, D. K. An Estimate of Undiscovered Conventional Oil and Gas Resources of the World, 2012. http:// pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2012/3042/fs2012-3042.pdf (USGS, 2012).
  • NPC Global Oil and Gas Study: Topic Paper 22—Heavy Oil. www.npc.org/ study_topic_papers/22-ttg-heavy-oil.pdf (National Petroleum Council
    • B Clarke
    Clarke, B. NPC Global Oil and Gas Study: Topic Paper 22—Heavy Oil. www.npc.org/ study_topic_papers/22-ttg-heavy-oil.pdf (National Petroleum Council, 2007).
  • Assessment of in-place oil shale resources of the Green River Formation
    • R C Johnson
    • T J Mercier
    • M Brownfield
    Johnson, R. C., Mercier, T. J. & Brownfield, M. Assessment of in-place oil shale resources of the Green River Formation, Greater Green River Basin in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2011/3063/pdf/FS11-3063.pdf (USGS, 2011).
  • Thesis
    Oil and gas will play a central role in the global energy system for the foreseeable future. However, uncertainty surrounds both the availability of and demand for these fuels, and as a result, there are quite disparate viewpoints on the magnitude of this role. The aim of this thesis is to identify, understand, quantify and, where possible, minimise the sources of this uncertainty, and to investigate the implications that such uncertainties have on the future of oil and gas. There are two areas of original contribution to knowledge. First, while numerous studies have examined the availability of various subsets of oil and gas, often in a deterministic manner, this work provides a full description of the uncertainty in the resource potential of all individual categories of oil and gas. This includes estimating the uncertainty in resource availability at different costs of production, and also examining the resource potential of categories that have been previously overlooked. Second, the implications of this and other major sources of uncertainty have never been investigated using models that incorporate both supply and demand-side dynamics. Two models are used for this purpose. The first is an existing energy systems model, TIAM-UCL, which has been substantially modified to allow a more accurate characterisation of long-term oil and gas production and consumption. The second is an oil-sector specific model that has been developed named the 'Bottom-Up Geological and Economic Oil field production model' (BUEGO). This is capable of examining oil production potential to 2035 and is used to examine shorter-term and more sector specific uncertainties.
  • Article
    Oil-shale deposits are found in many parts of the world. They range in age from Cambrian to Tertiary and were formed in a variety of marine, continental, and lacustine depositional environments. The largest known deposit is the Green River oil shale in western United States. It contains an estimated 215 billion tons of in-place shale oil (1.5 trillion U.S. barrels). Total resources of a selected group of oil-shale deposits in 33 countries is estimated at 411 billion tons of in-place shale oil which is equivalent to 2.9 trillion U.S. barrels of shale oil. This figure is very conservative because several deposits mentioned herein have not been explored sufficiently to make accurate estimates and other deposits were not included in this survey.
  • Chapter
    Colombia lies at the northwest corner of South America, next to the Isthmus of Panama. It is cut by three ranges of the Andes, which are separated from each other by the Magdalena and Cauca Valleys. In the southeast are the plains and grasslands of the Llanos which pass into the forests of the Upper Amazon and Orinoco valleys. In the north are coastal lowlands, passing into the arid terrain of the Guajira Peninsula, bordering Venezuela. The country is washed by the Caribbean to the north and the Pacific to the west, and drained by the Magdalena River, flowing northwards into the Caribbean, as well as by the Orinoco headwaters in the deep interior.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Any limit on future global warming is associated with a quota on cumulative global CO2 emissions. We translate this global carbon quota to regional and national scales, on a spectrum of sharing principles that extends from continuation of the present distribution of emissions to an equal per-capita distribution of cumulative emissions. A blend of these endpoints emerges as the most viable option. For a carbon quota consistent with a 2 degrees C warming limit (relative to pre-industrial levels), the necessary long-term mitigation rates are very challenging (typically over 5% per year), both because of strong limits on future emissions from the global carbon quota and also the likely short-term persistence in emissions growth in many regions.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Any limit on future global warming is associated with a quota on cumulative global CO2 emissions. We translate this global carbon quota to regional and national scales, on a spectrum of sharing principles that extends from continuation of the present distribution of emissions to an equal per-capita distribution of cumulative emissions. A blend of these endpoints emerges as the most viable option. For a carbon quota consistent with a 2 °C warming limit (relative to pre-industrial levels), the necessary long-term mitigation rates are very challenging (typically over 5% per year), both because of strong limits on future emissions from the global carbon quota and also the likely short-term persistence in emissions growth in many regions.
  • Integrated Assessment Modelling Consortium (IAMC) AR5 Scenario Database https://secure.iiasa.ac.at/web-apps
    • Ipcc
    • Group
    • Iii
    IPCC Working Group III. Integrated Assessment Modelling Consortium (IAMC) AR5 Scenario Database https://secure.iiasa.ac.at/web-apps/ene/AR5DB/ (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 2014).
  • Article
    Full-text available
    This paper examines the volumes of oil that can and cannot be used up to 2035 during the transition to a low-carbon global energy system using the global energy systems model, TIAM-UCL and the ‘Bottom up Economic and Geological Oil field production model’ (BUEGO). Globally in a scenario allowing the widespread adoption of carbon capture and storage (CCS) nearly 500 billion barrels of existing 2P oil reserves must remain unused by 2035. In a scenario where CCS is unavailable this increases to around 600 billion barrels. Besides reserves, arctic oil and light tight oil play only minor roles in a scenario with CCS and essentially no role when CCS is not available. On a global scale, 40% of those resources yet to be found in deepwater regions must remain undeveloped, rising to 55% if CCS cannot be deployed. The widespread development of unconventional oil resources is also shown to be incompatible with a decarbonised energy system even with a total and rapid decarbonisation of energetic inputs. The work thus demonstrates the extent to which current energy policies encouraging the unabated exploration for, and exploitation of, all oil resources are incommensurate with the achievement of a low-carbon energy system.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    We analyze the dynamics of global fossil resource markets under different assumptions for the supply of fossil fuel resources, development pathways for energy demand, and climate policy settings. Resource markets, in particular the oil market, are characterized by a large discrepancy between costs of resource extraction and commodity prices on international markets. We explain this observation in terms of (a) the intertemporal scarcity rent, (b) regional price differentials arising from trade and transport costs, (c) heterogeneity and inertia in the extraction sector. These effects are captured by the REMIND model. We use the model to explore economic effects of changes in coal, oil and gas markets induced by climate-change mitigation policies. A large share of fossil fuel reserves and resources will be used in the absence of climate policy leading to atmospheric GHG concentrations well beyond a level of 550 ppm CO2-eq. This result holds independently of different assumptions about energy demand and fossil fuel availability. Achieving ambitious climate targets will drastically reduce fossil fuel consumption, in particular the consumption of coal. Conventional oil and gas as well as non-conventional oil reserves are still exhausted. We find the net present value of fossil fuel rent until 2100 at 30tril.US$ with a large share of oil and a small share of coal. This is reduced by 9 and 12tril.US$ to achieve climate stabilization at 550 and 450 ppm CO2-eq, respectively. This loss is, however, overcompensated by revenues from carbon pricing that are 21 and 32tril.US$, respectively. The overcompensation also holds under variations of energy demand and fossil fuel supply.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The new scenario framework for climate change research envisions combining pathways of future radiative forcing and their associated climate changes with alternative pathways of socioeconomic development in order to carry out research on climate change impacts, adaptation, and mitigation. Here we propose a conceptual framework for how to define and develop a set of Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) for use within the scenario framework. We define SSPs as reference pathways describing plausible alternative trends in the evolution of society and ecosystems over a century timescale, in the absence of climate change or climate policies. We introduce the concept of a space of challenges to adaptation and to mitigation that should be spanned by the SSPs, and discuss how particular trends in social, economic, and environmental development could be combined to produce such outcomes. A comparison to the narratives from the scenarios developed in the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) illustrates how a starting point for developing SSPs can be defined. We suggest initial development of a set of basic SSPs that could then be extended to meet more specific purposes, and envision a process of application of basic and extended SSPs that would be iterative and potentially lead to modification of the original SSPs themselves.
  • Article
    It is increasingly claimed that the world is entering a ‘golden age of gas’, with the exploitation of unconventional resources expected to transform gas markets around the world. But the future development of these resources is subject to multiple uncertainties, particularly with regard to the size and recoverability of the physical resource. This paper assesses the currently available evidence on the size of unconventional gas resources at both the regional and global level. Focussing in particular on shale gas, it first explores the meaning and appropriate interpretation of the various terms and definitions used in resource estimation and then summarises and compares the different regional and global estimates that have been produced to date. It shows how these estimates have increased over time and highlights their variability, the wide range of uncertainty and the inadequate treatment of this uncertainty by most studies. The paper also addresses coal bed methane and tight gas and identifies those estimates that appear to be most robust for each region. The paper concludes that unconventional gas could represent 40% of the remaining technically recoverable resource of natural gas, but the level of uncertainty is extremely high and the economically recoverable resource could be substantially smaller.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    This paper discusses the uncertainties that exist in estimating the remaining ultimately recoverable resources of oil globally including the reasons for these and, where possible, how they may be mitigated, resolved, or reduced in future assessments. The encompassing and ambiguous terms ‘conventional oil’ and ‘unconventional oil’ are disaggregated into the numerous categories of oil that exist within each. These categories are investigated individually in order to identify the specific uncertainties by which they are influenced and affected. A key finding is that there are intrinsic uncertainties within every category of oil. Future assessments of global oil resources and projections of oil production should hence acknowledge these issues, explain or assess the effects that they have on results, and present ranges in any estimates produced or provided. An initial estimate is made of the technically recoverable resources of the light tight oil often called ‘shale oil’: oil found in low permeability shale formations requiring stimulation to be extracted. These resources are estimated to range on a global scale between 150 and 508 billion barrels with a central estimate of 278 billion barrels.
  • Article
    The Prize is a large and ambitious book; it presents a chronicle of events in the oil industry from its beginning in the nineteenth century to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. It is a [open quotes]tour de force[close quotes] packed with characters and assessments of crises, of struggles for oil power and the impact of oil on twentieth century life. It surpasses previous overall oil industry survey books and succeeds in revealing three great themes that the author believes underlies the story of oil, namely, (1) that oil is the world's biggest and most pervasive business where risks and rewards are starkly revealed, (2) that oil is a commodity intertwined with national strategies, global politics, and power relationships, and (3) that the twentieth century is supremely a hydrocarbon society.
  • Article
    Two important trends affecting the expected growth of global gas markets are (1) the shift by many industrialized countries from coal-fired electricity generation to the use of natural gas to generate electricity and (2) the industrialization of the heavily populated Asian countries of India and China. This paper surveys discovered gas in stranded conventional gas accumulations and presents estimates of the cost of developing and producing stranded gas in selected countries. Stranded gas is natural gas in discovered or identified fields that is not currently commercially producible for either physical or economic reasons. Published reserves of gas at the global level do not distinguish between volumes of gas in producing fields and volumes in nonproducing fields. Data on stranded gas reported here-that is the volumes, geographical distribution, and size distributions of stranded gas fields at the country and regional level-are based on the examination of individual-field data and represent a significant improvement in information available to industry and government decision makers. Globally, stranded gas is pervasive, but large volumes in large accumulations are concentrated in only a few areas. The cost component of the paper focuses on stranded conventional gas accumulations in Africa and South America that have the potential to augment supplies to Europe. The methods described for the computation of extraction and transport costs are innovative in that they use information on the sizes and geographical distribution of the identified stranded gas fields. The costs are based on industry data specific to the country and geologic basin where the stranded gas is located. Gas supplies to Europe can be increased significantly at competitive costs by the development of stranded gas. Net extraction costs of producing the identified gas depend critically on the natural-gas-liquids (NGLs) content, the prevailing prices of liquids, the size of the gas accumulation, and the deposit's location. The diversity of the distribution of stranded gas is one obstacle to the exercise of market power by the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).
  • Article
    Full-text available
    With World oil demand increasing in the face of limited supplies, increasing attention is turning towards non-conventional oil sources as a means to relieve the pressure exerted on conventional stocks. However, non-conventional oils are hard to extract, process and transport. Several technologies are already at work with differing levels of success, recovery ranging from as low as 5% through to more than 70%. This paper reviews the range of Enhanced Oil Recovery techniques, broadly classified into either thermal or non-thermal methods, and their applicability to the extraction of heavy oils and bitumens. Advantages and disadvantages are presented in terms of their recovery factors, requirements, limitations and economics. The potential benefits of additional downhole catalytic upgrading of heavy oils are also explored.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Over the next decade, large energy investments are required in the UK to meet growing energy service demands and legally binding emission targets under a pioneering policy agenda. These are necessary despite deep mid-term (2025–2030) uncertainties over which national policy makers have little control. We investigate the effect of two critical mid-term uncertainties on optimal near-term investment decisions using a two-stage stochastic energy system model. The results show that where future fossil fuel prices are uncertain: (i) the near term hedging strategy to 2030 differs from any one deterministic fuel price scenario and is structurally dissimilar to a simple ‘average’ of the deterministic scenarios, and (ii) multiple recourse strategies from 2030 are perturbed by path dependencies caused by hedging investments. Evaluating the uncertainty under a decarbonisation agenda shows that fossil fuel price uncertainty is very expensive at around £20 billion. The addition of novel mitigation options reduces the value of fossil fuel price uncertainty to £11 billion. Uncertain biomass import availability shows a much lower value of uncertainty at £300 million. This paper reveals the complex relationship between the flexibility of the energy system and mitigating the costs of uncertainty due to the path-dependencies caused by the long-life times of both infrastructures and generation technologies.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The status of world oil reserves is a contentious issue, polarised between advocates of peak oil who believe production will soon decline, and major oil companies that say there is enough oil to last for decades.In reality, much of the disagreement can be resolved through clear definition of the grade, type, and reporting framework used to estimate oil reserve volumes. While there is certainly vast amounts of fossil fuel resources left in the ground, the volume of oil that can be commercially exploited at prices the global economy has become accustomed to is limited and will soon decline. The result is that oil may soon shift from a demand-led market to a supply constrained market.The capacity to meet the services provided by future liquid fuel demand is contingent upon the rapid and immediate diversification of the liquid fuel mix, the transition to alternative energy carriers where appropriate, and demand side measures such as behavioural change and adaptation. The successful transition to a poly-fuel economy will also be judged on the adequate mitigation of environmental and social costs.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Current scientific knowledge on the future response of the climate system to human-induced perturbations is comprehensively captured by various model intercomparison efforts. In the preparation of the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intercomparisons were organized for atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) and carbon cycle models, named "CMIP3" and "C4MIP", respectively. Despite their tremendous value for the scientific community and policy makers alike, there are some difficulties in interpreting the results. For example, radiative forcings were not standardized across the various AOGCM integrations and carbon cycle runs, and, in some models, key forcings were omitted. Furthermore, the AOGCM analysis of plausible emissions pathways was restricted to only three SRES scenarios. This study attempts to address these issues. We present an updated version of MAGICC, the simple carbon cycle-climate model used in past IPCC Assessment Reports with enhanced representation of time-varying climate sensitivities, carbon cycle feedbacks, aerosol forcings and ocean heat uptake characteristics. This new version, MAGICC6, is successfully calibrated against the higher complexity AOGCMs and carbon cycle models. Parameterizations of MAGICC6 are provided. The mean of the emulations presented here using MAGICC6 deviates from the mean AOGCM responses by only 2.2% on average for the SRES scenarios. This enhanced emulation skill in comparison to previous calibrations is primarily due to: making a "like-with-like comparison" using AOGCM-specific subsets of forcings; employing a new calibration procedure; as well as the fact that the updated simple climate model can now successfully emulate some of the climate-state dependent effective climate sensitivities of AOGCMs. The diagnosed effective climate sensitivity at the time of CO2 doubling for the AOGCMs is on average 2.88 °C, about 0.33 °C cooler than the mean of the reported slab ocean climate sensitivities. In the companion paper (Part 2) of this study, we examine the combined climate system and carbon cycle emulations for the complete range of IPCC SRES emissions scenarios and the new RCP pathways.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The global temperature response to increasing atmospheric CO(2) is often quantified by metrics such as equilibrium climate sensitivity and transient climate response. These approaches, however, do not account for carbon cycle feedbacks and therefore do not fully represent the net response of the Earth system to anthropogenic CO(2) emissions. Climate-carbon modelling experiments have shown that: (1) the warming per unit CO(2) emitted does not depend on the background CO(2) concentration; (2) the total allowable emissions for climate stabilization do not depend on the timing of those emissions; and (3) the temperature response to a pulse of CO(2) is approximately constant on timescales of decades to centuries. Here we generalize these results and show that the carbon-climate response (CCR), defined as the ratio of temperature change to cumulative carbon emissions, is approximately independent of both the atmospheric CO(2) concentration and its rate of change on these timescales. From observational constraints, we estimate CCR to be in the range 1.0-2.1 degrees C per trillion tonnes of carbon (Tt C) emitted (5th to 95th percentiles), consistent with twenty-first-century CCR values simulated by climate-carbon models. Uncertainty in land-use CO(2) emissions and aerosol forcing, however, means that higher observationally constrained values cannot be excluded. The CCR, when evaluated from climate-carbon models under idealized conditions, represents a simple yet robust metric for comparing models, which aggregates both climate feedbacks and carbon cycle feedbacks. CCR is also likely to be a useful concept for climate change mitigation and policy; by combining the uncertainties associated with climate sensitivity, carbon sinks and climate-carbon feedbacks into a single quantity, the CCR allows CO(2)-induced global mean temperature change to be inferred directly from cumulative carbon emissions.
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    Among the greatest uncertainties in future energy supply and a subject of considerable environmental concern is the amount of oil and gas yet to be found in the Arctic. By using a probabilistic geology-based methodology, the United States Geological Survey has assessed the area north of the Arctic Circle and concluded that about 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil may be found there, mostly offshore under less than 500 meters of water. Undiscovered natural gas is three times more abundant than oil in the Arctic and is largely concentrated in Russia. Oil resources, although important to the interests of Arctic countries, are probably not sufficient to substantially shift the current geographic pattern of world oil production.
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    Global efforts to mitigate climate change are guided by projections of future temperatures. But the eventual equilibrium global mean temperature associated with a given stabilization level of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations remains uncertain, complicating the setting of stabilization targets to avoid potentially dangerous levels of global warming. Similar problems apply to the carbon cycle: observations currently provide only a weak constraint on the response to future emissions. Here we use ensemble simulations of simple climate-carbon-cycle models constrained by observations and projections from more comprehensive models to simulate the temperature response to a broad range of carbon dioxide emission pathways. We find that the peak warming caused by a given cumulative carbon dioxide emission is better constrained than the warming response to a stabilization scenario. Furthermore, the relationship between cumulative emissions and peak warming is remarkably insensitive to the emission pathway (timing of emissions or peak emission rate). Hence policy targets based on limiting cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide are likely to be more robust to scientific uncertainty than emission-rate or concentration targets. Total anthropogenic emissions of one trillion tonnes of carbon (3.67 trillion tonnes of CO(2)), about half of which has already been emitted since industrialization began, results in a most likely peak carbon-dioxide-induced warming of 2 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures, with a 5-95% confidence interval of 1.3-3.9 degrees C.
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    More than 100 countries have adopted a global warming limit of 2 degrees C or below (relative to pre-industrial levels) as a guiding principle for mitigation efforts to reduce climate change risks, impacts and damages. However, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions corresponding to a specified maximum warming are poorly known owing to uncertainties in the carbon cycle and the climate response. Here we provide a comprehensive probabilistic analysis aimed at quantifying GHG emission budgets for the 2000-50 period that would limit warming throughout the twenty-first century to below 2 degrees C, based on a combination of published distributions of climate system properties and observational constraints. We show that, for the chosen class of emission scenarios, both cumulative emissions up to 2050 and emission levels in 2050 are robust indicators of the probability that twenty-first century warming will not exceed 2 degrees C relative to pre-industrial temperatures. Limiting cumulative CO(2) emissions over 2000-50 to 1,000 Gt CO(2) yields a 25% probability of warming exceeding 2 degrees C-and a limit of 1,440 Gt CO(2) yields a 50% probability-given a representative estimate of the distribution of climate system properties. As known 2000-06 CO(2) emissions were approximately 234 Gt CO(2), less than half the proven economically recoverable oil, gas and coal reserves can still be emitted up to 2050 to achieve such a goal. Recent G8 Communiqués envisage halved global GHG emissions by 2050, for which we estimate a 12-45% probability of exceeding 2 degrees C-assuming 1990 as emission base year and a range of published climate sensitivity distributions. Emissions levels in 2020 are a less robust indicator, but for the scenarios considered, the probability of exceeding 2 degrees C rises to 53-87% if global GHG emissions are still more than 25% above 2000 levels in 2020.