Article Index
Fossil fuel sources
Page 2
All Pages

Leaving in the ground 

The climate change agreement reached in Paris in December 2015 was to prevent the average global temperature exceeding 1.5 C. To avoid irreversible changes in climate will require leaving most of the existing fossil fuels in the ground in order to limit the amount of greenhouse gases congregating in the upper atmosphere.

Modelling shows that this temperature rise sets an upper limit to the amount of global carbon that can be consumed which is estimated to be 885 gigatonnes of carbon. As 565 gigatonnes have already been burnt this leaves only 320 gigatonnes still to be consumed.

The scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have explained that the longer the world delays with stabilising its carbon emissions, the more severe will need to be the subsequent annual decline to stay within the required average global temperature limit. In 2015 they suggested a scenario which was for the world’s carbon emissions to peak by 2020 and then decrease by 3% each and every year up to the end of this century .

Limit in annual global carbon emissions peak in 2020 and then decline at a rate of 3.2% per annum to limit carbon in atmosphere to 886 gigatonnes by 2100 (IPCC 5 assessment report)

With the ever continuing increase in global emissions, it is now agreed that carbon emissions must reduce to zero by 2050 to avoid irreversible changes in climate. As the world’s carbon emissions have yet to peak in 2020, to achieve zero carbon by 2050 will require an even higher year on year decrease in carbon emissions around 7%.

The only way to meet our current and future energy needs will therefore be to change from using fossil fuels to renewable energies whose usage does not result in the formation of greenhouse gases.

KITH # Activity Age range
1.2   Use of fossil fuels   
  Science, geography
 11 – 18  



Language Selection

Find us on