Comparing extraction rates of fossil fuel producers against global climate goals

Saphira A.C. Rekker, Katherine R. O'Brien, Jacquelyn E. Humphrey, Andrew C. Pascale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Meeting global and national climate goals requires action and cooperation from a multitude of actors 1,2 . Current methods to define greenhouse gas emission targets for companies fail to acknowledge the unique influence of fossil fuel producers: combustion of reported fossil fuel reserves has the potential to push global warming above 2 °C by 2050, regardless of other efforts to mitigate climate change 3 . Here, we introduce a method to compare the extraction rates of individual fossil fuel producers against global climate targets, using two different approaches to quantify a burnable fossil fuel allowance (BFFA). BFFAs are calculated and compared with cumulative extraction since 2010 for the world's ten largest investor-owned companies and ten largest state-owned entities (SOEs), for oil and for gas, which together account for the majority of global oil and gas reserves and production. The results are strongly influenced by how BFFAs are quantified; allocating based on reserves favours SOEs over investor-owned companies, while allocating based on production would require most reduction to come from SOEs. Future research could refine the BFFA to account for equity, cost-effectiveness and emissions intensity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-492
Number of pages4
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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