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September, 30, 2016

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Fossil fuel reserves would crush climate goals: report

OXFORD, United Kingdom -- Developed oil, gas and coal reserves, if exhausted, are enough to push Earth well past the threshold for dangerous climate change, according to a report published Thursday.

Fossil fuels from active fields and mines allowed to operate through their projected lifetimes would punch through the 2-degree Celsius cap for global warming laid down in the Paris Agreement, said the report, based on industry data.

The analysis by Oil Change International was released the day after world leaders gathered in New York to speed the global climate pact, signed by 195 nations in December, into force.

That is likely to happen before the end of the year, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.

As climate change impacts — heat waves, deadly flooding, storm surges fueled by rising seas — hit earlier and harder than predicted, pressure has grown to accelerate the transition away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

The coal industry has been hit hardest, with moratoriums on new plants put in place this year in China and Indonesia, along with one covering federal land in the United States.

The Paris Agreement calls for holding global warming at "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-Industrial Revolution levels, and under 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) if possible.

Existing reserves of oil and gas alone, even without coal, would be enough to breach the 1.5 Celsius barrier, according to the 60-page report.

"If the world is serious about achieving the goals agreed in Paris, governments have to stop the expansion of the fossil fuel industry," said Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International.

Many of 200 climate scientists gathered in Oxford, England this week at a conference on the more stringent climate change goal have said that staying under 1.5 Celsius may be out of reach.

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