UN climate chief urges clean-up of gas industry

2014-04-03 14:48
Christiana Figueres. (Woohae Cho, AFP)

Christiana Figueres. (Woohae Cho, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Oslo - The UN's climate chief called on the oil and gas industry on Thursday to make a drastic shift to a clean, low-carbon future or risk having to leave three-quarters of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

"The time for experimentation, for marginal changes and for conditional response is now over", Christiana Figueres told the international petroleum industry environmental conservation association (IPIECA) in a speech in London.

She urged an "urgent transformation" to greener production after top scientists warned on Monday that climate change would damage food supplies, slow economic growth and aggravate the underlying causes of armed conflicts.

Limiting global warming to an agreed UN ceiling "means that three quarters of the fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground, and the fossil fuels we do use must be utilised sparingly and responsibly", she said.

Oil and gas firms say they are addressing global warming, for instance by focusing on energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies.

In a report on climate change risks on 31 March, Exxon Mobil said that all energy sources, including fossil fuels, had to be exploited to meet growing world demand.

"All of Exxon Mobil's current hydrocarbon reserves will be needed, along with substantial industry investments, to address global energy needs", William Colton, vice president of corporate strategic planning, said in a statement.

Figueres has become more outspoken in criticising the fossil fuel industry in recent months as part of efforts to promote renewable sources such as solar or wind power. In November, she called on the coal industry to clean up.

She said oil and gas firms should start by reporting risks to their business after governments agreed in 2010 to limit warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial times.

Temperatures are heading to breach the ceiling.

Figueres, the head of the UN's climate change secretariat in Bonn, noted the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the world has already burnt more than half a budget of a billion tons of carbon if it wants to stay below 2°C.

Companies should also take measures such as cutting methane leaks, lobby for an effective price on carbon emissions and invest in carbon capture and storage (CCS), she said.

CCS, which includes technologies to strip carbon dioxide from the flue gases of power plants, would allow continued output by eliminating most carbon emissions.

So far, however, there are few projects.

Saskatchewan Power in Canada will start its $1.35bn Boundary Dam coal-fired CCS project this year, capturing a million tonnes annually of carbon dioxide in what it says is the world's first post-combustion coal-fired CCS project.
Read more on:    un  |  ipcc  |  exxon mobil  |  christiana figueres  |  climate change  |  energy  |  environment

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.