Even as governments worldwide have largely failed to limit emissions of global warming gases, the decline of fossil fuel production may reduce those emissions significantly, experts said yesterday during a panel discussion at the Geological Society of America meeting.
Conventional production of oil has been on a plateau since 2005, said James Murray, a professor of oceanography at the University of Washington, who chaired the panel.
As production of conventional oil, which is far easier to get out of the ground, decreases, companies have turned to unconventional sources, such as those in deep water, tar sands or tight oil reserves, which have to be released by hydraulic fracturing.
But those techniques tend to lead to production peaks that tail off quickly, Murray said.
The panelists said these trends belie the high-end emission scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That scenario, known as RCP 8.5, and often referred to as the "business as usual" scenario, has carbon dioxide emissions increasing through 2100.