Africa's vast oil discoveries may have to remain unexploited to halt global warming, says columnist

Author: Christine Mungai, Mail & Guardian Africa (So. Africa), Published on: 10 August 2015

"'Unburnable carbon': Africa has hit big oil and gas recently but, alas, it may have to remain in the ground"

US president Barack Obama’s announcement a week ago of a far-reaching plan to limit carbon pollution from US power plants has been hailed as the clearest step to the commitment to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels...[This] is expected to be a signal for other countries to set ambitious targets of their own to reduce carbon emissions, ahead of a key UN climate change summit that will take place in Paris later in November and December.

Africa might be seen as a small-time contributor to the carbon crisis, and really just an unfortunate victim in this whole debate – after all, the continent accounts for just 3-4% of global carbon emissions, but will be hit hardest by extreme weather events and a changing climate...This has implications that African governments may not want to hear – there are oil, gas, and especially coal, reserves that must remain unexploited if the earth is to escape an environmental catastrophe, otherwise termed “unburnable carbon”. At the current rates of energy consumption, unburnable carbon will be reached in just 16 years.


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