Stern: Gonzo future for carbon on corporate books

Nicholas Stern frets about the fossil fuel reserves listed on corporate balance sheets.

Stern comments in the Financial Times,

… More than two-thirds of current annual emissions of greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide produced by the burning of coal, oil and gas. But according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative, proven reserves of fossil fuels, the big majority owned by nation states, would, if burned, produce 2.8tn tonnes of carbon dioxide, about double the carbon budget for the 50-50 chance of meeting the 2 degrees target.

Of this total, the proven reserves of the world’s top 100 listed coal companies and top 100 listed oil and gas companies could produce 745bn tonnes of carbon dioxide, more than half of the entire greenhouse gas budget for the next 40 years. National oil companies, often not listed, have far bigger proven reserves. Companies probably have substantial further potential reserves, and there are billions of dollars committed to searching for more, including tar sands and shale gas.

It is hard to believe that these companies, with a combined value of $7.42tn, are banking on an imminent deployment of carbon capture and storage, which prevents carbon dioxide from being emitted from the burning of fossil fuels.

It’s a carbon party — for plants and people who want higher standards of living.

Read Sterns’ commentary.