Figueres’ calls for an ‘urgent transformation’ during her speech at IPIECA’s 40th Anniversary conference in London on 3 April 2014 come after top scientists’ warnings that climate change would damage food supplies, slow economic growth and aggravate the underlying causes of armed conflicts.
Limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius as recommended by science “means that three quarters of the fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground, and the fossil fuels we do use must be utilized sparingly and responsibly”, she said.
Exxon Mobil stated in a report on climate change risks on March 31 that all their energy sources, including fossil fuels, had to be exploited to meet growing world demand. According to William Colton, vice president of corporate strategic planning, “all of Exxon Mobil’s current hydrocarbon reserves will be needed, along with substantial industry investments, to address global energy needs”.
In recent months Figueres has repeatedly criticized the fossil fuel industry and called for cleaning up efforts. In her recent speech in London, she urged companies to take measures such as cutting methane leaks, lobby for an effective price on carbon emissions and invest in CCS. CCS, which includes technologies to strip CO2 from the flue gases of power plants, would allow continued output by eliminating most CO2 emissions.
So far, however, despite calls for investment in CCS, projects are limited in number. Saskatchewan Power in Canada will start its €1 billion Boundary Dam coal-fired CCS project this year, capturing a million tons annually of CO2 in what is the world’s first post-combustion coal-fired CCS project.