Keep it in the ground: fossil energy resources must stay unused


As long as the global hunger for energy resources is insatiable, investing in fossil energy is a safe play. The risk of a carbon bubble on the capital market is overstated.


To reach the 2 °C target, one third of the remaining proven oil reserves, half of the gas reserves and more than 80 per cent of the coal reserves will have to be left in the ground. Market-listed companies based on investments in fossil reserves will face stranded assets.

Carbon Budget

To reach the 2 °C target two thirds of the remaining fossil fuels must be kept in the ground.

Proven reserves equivalent to gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide2

  • Coal
  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Total

Source: Data based on IPCC 2013, Ekins & McGlade 2015

To limit global warming to 2 °C, the vast majority of global fossil resources must remain unused. A maximum of about 1,000 gigatons (Gt) of emissions (800 to 1,200 Gt CO2) is allowed to reach the 2050 target of 2 °C. Consequently two thirds of the fossil reserves currently technologically and economically feasible must remain in the ground. Investments in companies based on fossil fuel reserves are becoming a growing risk to their investors. International divestment campaigns are persuading an increasing number of investors to withdraw from fossil fuel investments.