The world’s fossil fuels will “obviously” have to stay in the ground in order to solve global warming, Barack Obama’s climate change envoy said on Monday.
It is another sign of the Obama administration’s intent to reduce the use of fossil fuels, following an historic US-Chinese deal to curb emissions earlier this month.
The US state department climate change envoy, Todd Stern, said the world would have no choice but to forgo developing reserves of oil, coal and gas.
A global deal to fight climate change would necessarily require countries to abandon known reserves of oil, coal and gas, Stern told a forum at the Center for American Progress in Washington.
“It is going to have to be a solution that leaves a lot of fossil fuel assets in the ground,” he said. “We are not going to get rid of fossil fuel overnight but we are not going to solve climate change on the basis of all the fossil fuels that are in the ground are going to have to come out. That’s pretty obvious.”
Stern’s announcement comes ahead of key UN climate negotiations in Lima.
“Companies and investors all over are going to be starting at some point to be factoring in what the future is longer range for fossil fuel,” Stern said.
The UN, in its IPCC climate science report last year and in another report earlier this month, warned that the world is close to blowing through a carbon budget, which would lead to warming of above 2°C.
The UN Environment Programme warned last week that global emissions must peak in the next decade, fall by half by 2050, and then decline to zero to remain within that budget.
Obama said in an interview last June that the US was going to have to start getting off fossil fuel - but he has also simultaneously pursued an “all of the above” energy strategy that has ramped up domestic oil and gas production.
Many coal industry players have been highly critical of Obama’s energy policy, arguing he has waged a “war on coal” to the detriment of both the US and the world as a whole.
One of the most vocal supporters of coal is coal mining giant, Peabody Energy, which has argued coal is vital in providing low-cost energy to the billions of people around the world who lack adequate access to electricity and energy.
Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson
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