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Unburnable carbon 2013: wasted capital and stranded assets

According to this report, despite fossil fuel reserves already far exceeding the carbon budget to avoid global warming of more than two degrees Celsius, US$674 billion was spent in 2012 finding and developing new potentially stranded assets. If this continues, economies will see over US$6 trillion in wasted capital. The analysis shows that between 60-80 per cent of coal, oil and gas reserves of publicly listed companies could be classified ‘unburnable’, if the world is to achieve emissions reductions that mean a 80 per cent probability of not exceeding global warming of two degrees Celsius. The study concludes that even a less ambitious climate goal would still imply significant constraints on our use of fossil fuel reserves. Yet oil, gas and coal companies are seeking to develop further resources which could double the level of potential CO2 emissions on the world’s stock exchanges. Therefore, the paper calls for a re-evaluation of energy business models against carbon budgets.