Stranded Assets: Unburnable Carbon
Given that existing proved fossil fuel reserves represent more CO2 than we can afford to emit without causing catastrophic global warming, there can be no justification in further exploration.
So why do they do it?
Oil companies have included in their assets as yet un-proved oil and gas resources that they expect to find. The value of the companies is based on the presumption that such resources will be found, developed, produced and sold.
The finance industry has invested in oil companies on this presumption. The investment is so great that if it turned out to be valueless (if, for instance, governments declared that the threat of global warming was real and so no new oil and gas fields may be exploited) the global financial system would collapse.
Some politicians know that putting a cap on carbon emissions would result in financial collapse. They don't want that happening on their watch. They keep their fingers crossed that they will be dead before global warming really bites.
They have forgotten their grandchildren.
Other politicians just don't get it.
Our best hope for a relatively soft landing is Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs).
Meanwhile we must do what we can to stop any further development of new fossil fuel sources, anywhere.
For a much longer, and very authoritative, account of the stranded carbon assets go to Carbon Tracker or download the report Unburnable Carbon 2013:
Wasted capital and stranded assets
Update 8th October 2013
Damian Carrington writes in the Guardian: Campaign against fossil fuels growing about the report from Oxford University's Smith School of Enterprise and Environment (SSEE): Stranded assets and the fossil fuel divestment campaign: what does divestment mean for the valuation of fossil fuel assets?
Update 19th October 2013
Citi GPS have produced a report, Energy Darwinism that highlights the fall in costs of renewables will lead to stranded assets in the fossil fuel industries. See also commentaries from Greentechgrid and SmartGridNews and GreenBiz.