Carbon Tracker Initiative Youtube Video

This is a very short explanation of their basic idea of “unburnable carbon”. Two thirds of global fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground. That means, in their view, that fossil fuel companies may lose a lot of value because of climate change regulation.

I of course think that the exact opposite is true.

If the governments of the world start putting a cap on fossil fuel supply, basic market theory suggests that fossil fuel prices would go up. That in turn means that all of the fossil fuel in the ground suddenly will be worth much more, even the “unburnable” part.

That’s because even the caps for burning fossil fuel go down to zero, this is still a resource valuable as raw material in the petrochemical industry.

The video mentions in passing that demand for fossil fuel will go down as more renewable energy and electric cars are deployed.

That’s true as well. Even without any global warming concerns, solar and electric cars will massively reduce fossil fuel demand over the coming couple of decades by simple market forces.

The trick for the fossil fuel companies is to get the regulatory caps on supply in place faster than demand will go down, and secure high fossil fuel prices in the process.

They should start a lobbying organization for the purpose of getting a world wide cap on fossil fuel supply enacted quickly.

On the other hand, they may just stick to business as usual. In that case, the Carbon Tracker estimate of the fossil fuel industry losing $1 trillion from global warming risks seems on the conservative side.




Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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