When looking at our future as a society, there needs to be given some attention to how we will produce energy into the future.
In this guide, we outline how much fossil fuels are left, and when we will run out.
If you specifically want to read about each of the fossil fuels, you can do so in these guides:
- How Much Natural Gas Is Left In The World, & When Will We Run Out?
- How Much Oil Is Left In The World, & When Will We Run Out?
- How Much Coal Is Left In The World, & When Will We Run Out?
How Much Fossil Fuels Are Left On Earth?
- As of January 1, 2018, there was an estimated 7,124 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of total world proved reserves of gross natural gas.
- Total world proved oil reserves reached 1687.9 billion barrels at the end of 2013, sufficient to meet 53.3 years of global production
- As of December 31, 2015, estimates of total world proved recoverable reserves of coal were about 1,136 billion short tons, (or 1.1 trillion short tons).
When Will We Run Out Of Fossil Fuels?
- We’ll still have gas and coal left by the time oil runs out in 2052. But if we increase gas production to fill the energy gap left by oil, then those reserves will only give us an additional eight years, taking us to 2060
- [based on production rates and how fast crude oil reserves are diminishing … without taking into account future population growth … our known oil deposits will last until 2052]
- It’s often claimed that we have enough coal to last hundreds of years. But if we step up production to fill the gap left through depleting our oil and gas reserves, the coal deposits we know about will run out in 2088.
Reserves vs Resources
Note that the above figures are mainly for proven reserves.
It’s possible there is more fossil fuel resources in the earth, but they haven’t been explored, tested and proven as reserves yet.
So, reserve levels are not a 100% accurate number of how much fossil fuels are actually left because of the money and time it takes to explore, test and prove reserve.
Reserves are what is economically viable to mine – some resources may not be profitable to mine because they are located too deep in the ground for example.
A Note On Burning The Fossil Fuels We Have Left
If we take coal for example, if we want to reduce the negative effects of climate change into the future, we may actually have to leave most of the know coal reserves (and other fossil fuels) in the ground:
- … we will have to leave between 65 to 80 percent of current known reserves untouched if we are to stand a chance of keeping average global temperature rise below our two-degrees global target