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Friends of the Earth analyses UK’s carbon budget



New analysis by Friends of the Earth has said that because the planet houses more carbon than we can safely burn, the UK government must be wary of possible policy implications.

The study, Unburnable Gas, highlights the need for sensible strategies that help reduce carbon emissions whilst attending to our energy needs. It says, “The UK plans on producing far more than a reasonable share of the world’s burnable carbon. Shale gas is just adding to a huge unburnable carbon problem.”

It says that in order to keep the planet’s temperature below the agreed limit of 2C, the world must stick to the emission limits set by the Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC recently said that we could only burn 800 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) if we want to keep the chances of preventing 2C below 33%.

Friends of the Earth says that if current proven burnable resources were to be extracted and used, 2,800 GtCO2 would be emitted.. This does not take into account the “potential” or “possible” resources that could be extracted.

The campaign group refers to a comment made by the economist Dieter Helm, who said last year in the Spectator, The problem is that we have too much fossil fuel resource, not too little –enough to fry the planet several times over.”

The report also accuses the UK government of threatening diplomatic co-operation on the reduction of dependency on fossil fuels, saying that this is compromised by its stance on attempting to generate as much tax revenue as possible by endorsing fossil fuel extraction from the North Sea, and by reducing imported fuel dependency.

It says the government needs to look at “what fraction of [the] supply we can safely burn”.

In August, the IPCC said it was 95% sure that human activity was responsible for climate change.

Further reading:

IPCC report sparks debate on climate change

Governments must see ‘scientific realities of inaction’ on climate change, says IPCC chief

Climate scientists ‘95% sure’ that global warming is manmade, says leaked IPCC document

Governments to read IPCC draft with global warming ‘slowdown’ top of the agenda

IPCC climate report: global temperatures likely to exceed 2C this century