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Impact of fossil fuel extraction on global warming: 

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues. 



According to a new study (published in the journal Nature), global fossil fuel extraction needs to go down to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is the target set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. 


Key findings: 

  1. The global oil and gas production should decline by three per cent per year until 2050 to reach the target set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. 
  2. As of now, both planned and operational fossil fuel extraction projects are not conducive to meeting the targets set. 
  3. A substantial number of regions in the world have already reached their peak fossil fuel production and that any increase in fossil fuel production will have to be offset by a decline elsewhere, if the goal wants to be achieved. 
  4. The required unextracted reserves need to be 58 percent for oil, 59 percent for fossil methane gas and 89 percent for coal by 2050. Which is to say that these percentages of fossil fuels need to remain unextractable if global warming targets are kept in mind. 


Why is there a need to limit the use of fossil fuels? 

Global cost of air pollution from fossil fuels is high: It was around $2.9 trillion per year, or $8 billion per day, which was 3.3 per cent of the world’s GDP at the time. 

  • India is estimated to bear a cost of $150 billion from air pollution caused by fossil fuels. 


Challenges ahead: 

  1. As of now, human activities have already caused global temperatures to rise by about 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1950-1900). 
  2. Currently, countries’ emissions targets are not in line with limiting global warming to under 1.5 degrees. 


What is the goal set out by the Paris Climate Agreement? 

The Paris Climate Agreement that was signed by 195 countries in 2015 has set out a goal to limit climate change in the coming decades. 

  • The agreement aims to slow the process of global warming by making efforts to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels”. 


Need of the hour for India: 

  1. Reduce emphasis on domestic exploration. 
  2. Increase productivity of producing fields. 
  3. Increase strategic reserves. 
  4. Restructure and reorganize public sector petroleum companies. 
  5. Avoid siloed thinking. 




Prelims Link: 

  1. What is Paris Agreement?
  2. Which countries have not signed?
  3. Targets.
  4. Funding mechanism announced under the Paris Agreement.
  5. What are NDCs?

Mains Link: 

Discuss the significance of the Paris Climate deal. 

Sources: Indian Express.