Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fossil Fuel Reserve Pricing

I just watched this interesting clip from the Economist and thought that I would share. It was about the large disconnect between Governments and large fossil fuel companies and the amount of carbon emission they say they will reduce compared to how large their fuel reserves are. It is estimated that we can only burn 1,000 gigatons of carbon to stay within the desired limits and to not raise the risk of global warming. This is interesting because there is currently 3,000 gigatons of reserves.....

In this way they are explaining to all how committed to reduction of climate change they are but when a new company comes along the first thing they do is to explain the large amount of reserves they posses. This gives the appearance of not being committed to the current desires to reduce emissions.

To raise more belief in the promises of these countries and businesses they could could deplete some of their reserves so that there was less of a gap. Right now these reserves, the 2,000 gigatons, are called unburnable carbon reserves. When a business does limit their exploration of new reserves, as Shell did, and their reserves are lessened this weighs heavily on their market presence and the way they are view by shareholders.

This is interesting because this is a huge amount of money that we are talking about. The top 200 biggest fossil fuel agencies hold a $4 trillion dollar market share. It seems the only way to limit this is a type on tax on new resources mined. Without this these companies will still desire to keep the reserves growing thus raise the potential of burning of these fossil fuels higher.

This is the link to the Economist video I watched. The first three min are on unburnable reserves. While the segments on the growth of Norwegian Airlines and tourism in Egypt are also interesting the first segment is most pertinent to our class.

Thanks to Colleen Sheahon for reviewing!


  1. An article in the Economist called "Unburnable Fuel" also mentioned the problem of how a bad economy can affect a nation's ethics:

    "On April 16th the European Parliament voted against attempts to shore up Europe’s emissions trading system against collapse. The system is the EU’s flagship environmental policy and the world’s largest carbon market" suggesting, "...Europeans have lost their will to endure short-term pain for long-term environmental gain."

    It's like living above a cupcake shop when trying to diet. Easy access and a culture supporting the consumption of small, delicious cakes that are slightly moist and topped with buttercream... sorry. It's going to take a lot of will power or absolute necessity for governments to reject such an accessible, lucrative commodity.

  2. Tuckers analogy is a good one.
    It is interesting though, that since the advent of modern fracking, the United States has moved from a net consumer of delicious little baked goods. To a gigantic Hostess factory (I use Hostess on purpose here)exporting mass produced and highly processed, pre-packaged cakes to the world.
    We are now a net exporter of the hydro-carbon. All fracking has significantly changed all peak oil curves. Unfortunately our addiction to the stuff will not cease, until like the fat kid that ate way to many cakes... we end up, inevitably on dialyses. Treating our self inflicted health issue with a myriad of medicines and supplements. Always still, craving that sweet little cupcake we used to have when we were young.


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