Jonathan Koomey: Exxon agrees to evaluate the "stranded asset" risk associated with climate action

InsightaaS: Many longer-time readers are aware that in addition to the material published on this site, the InsightaaS.com team publishes in other venues — including as the Sustainable IT columnists for Bloomberg BNA. In our research, consulting and publishing on sustainable IT, we have frequently relied on the insightful work of Jonathan Koomey, Consulting Professor at Stanford University, to understand issues in and implications of energy usage in the data centre.

Koomey is a thoughtful observer of environmental trends and developments - so when he introduces something with the words "This is a huge deal,"  we're inclined to take notice. In this post from Koomey’s blog, he discusses Exxon's decision to warn investors of potential risks associated with future carbon emissions limits, and goes on to consider the overall effect this might have on market patterns. 

The financial markets are starting to realize that the "booked" reserves of the fossil fuel companies are based on a fallacy:  these estimates assume that those fossil fuel resources can be burned and still maintain a stable climate.  As I and others have written for years, we must keep a significant fraction (about three quarters) of known fossil resources in the ground to have any hope of stabilizing global temperatures at or near 2 C above preindustrial times.

Yesterday Exxon Mobil made a major announcement, summarized by the New York Times as follows:

"Energy companies have been under increasing pressure from shareholder activists in recent years to warn investors of the risks that stricter limits on carbon emissions would place on their business.

On Thursday, a shareholder group said that it had won its biggest prize yet, when Exxon Mobil became the first oil and gas producer to agree to publish that information by the end of the month..."

Read the entire post: http://www.koomey.com/post/80325189354

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