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The Imperative to Preserve Earth’s Vital Ecosystems: A Call to Action for Investors and Governments

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The latest study presents a chilling reality – to adhere to the Paris Agreement and sustain global temperatures within a 1.5°C threshold, the sanctity of critical ecological zones must be protected, devoid of any oil extraction. These vulnerable areas, encompassing natural reserves, biodiversity hotspots, Indigenous territories, and urban landscapes, are essential for maintaining a delicate ecological balance.

Despite the significance of safeguarding these areas, abstaining from extracting oil and coal alone cannot ensure compliance with the Paris Agreement’s stipulations. A deeper, more profound shift is required to align with global climate objectives.

A Fresh Navigation Map

Within this landscape, the unburnable oil atlas unveils a new roadmap, pivoting international climate policies towards sustainable energy practices while reinforcing socio-environmental protections during energy extraction processes. Lead researcher Martí Orta-Martínez underscores the urgency in retaining underground oil reserves, particularly those entwined with endemic biodiversity or socio-environmental significance worldwide.

By identifying resources that must remain untapped, the study starkly reveals the irreconcilability between exploiting selected oil deposits and achieving the commitments outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Global distribution of top-priority unburnable conventional oil resources according to their coincidence with areas of outstanding socio-environmental characteristics
Global distribution of top-priority unburnable conventional oil resources according to their coincidence with areas of outstanding socio-environmental characteristics. (Image from Nature Communications.)

The global scientific consensus now emphatically underscores the necessity of capping global warming at 1.5°C to avert catastrophic climate tipping points like permafrost thaw, Arctic ice loss, and rampant forest fires.

Depletion of Carbon Budget

Striving to confine global temperature rise to 1.5°C demands strict adherence to the remaining carbon budget—a critical threshold that must not be breached. As of January 2023, the designated carbon budget for maintaining a 50% chance of staying within the 1.5°C limit hovered around 250 gigatonnes of CO2.

However, the alarming pace of human-induced emissions, approximately 42 GtCO2 per annum, signifies an impending depletion of this budget by 2028. A sobering realization surfaces—combusting existing fossil fuel reserves would release a staggering 10,000 GtCO2 into the atmosphere, eclipsing the stringent constraints set by the 1.5°C carbon budget.

Co-author Gorka Muñoa resonates the urgent need to halt new fossil fuel exploration, cease licensing for extraction activities, and prematurely shut down 75% of existing oil, gas, and coal projects to align with the imperative of restraining global warming within 1.5°C.

Consequently, a clarion call echoes through the halls of government, industry, and investment circles—an immediate cessation of financial backing for fossil fuel ventures unless stringent socio-environmental criteria are unequivocally met.

The crusade for clean energy investment intensifies, stressing the vital role of governments, corporations, and investors in nurturing sustainable energy alternatives and upholding a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.

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