In a time when the world’s scientific community sounds louder, and stronger than ever, the alarm about the fast growing climate crisis and its destructive impacts, governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030.
The information comes from the 2021 Production Gap Report, which has been elaborated by leading research institutes and the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and was released on 20 October.
It finds that despite increased climate ambitions and net-zero commitments, governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than what would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
The gap report, first issued in 2019, measures the gap between governments’ planned production of coal, oil, and gas and the global production levels consistent with meeting the Paris Agreement temperature limits.
Two years later, the 2021 report finds the production gap largely unchanged despite the quickly growing climate emergency.
“Over the next two decades, governments are collectively projecting an increase in global oil and gas production, and only a modest decrease in coal production. Taken together, their plans and projections see global, total fossil fuel production increasing out to at least 2040, creating an ever-widening production gap.”
Commenting on the report, the Executive Director of UNEP, Inger Andersen, said: “The devastating impacts of climate change are here for all to see. There is still time to limit long-term warming to 1.5°C, but this window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
The 15 major producers
The 2021 Production Gap Report provides country profiles for 15 major producer countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The country profiles show that most of these governments continue to provide significant policy support for fossil fuel production.
“The research is clear: global coal, oil, and gas production must start declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming to 1.5°C,” warned Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead author on the report and a Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) scientist.
“However, governments continue to plan for and support levels of fossil fuel production that are vastly in excess of what we can safely burn.”
The report’s main findings include:
. The world’s governments plan to produce around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, and 45% more than consistent with 2°C. The size of the production gap has remained largely unchanged compared to our prior assessments.
. Governments’ production plans and projections would lead to about 240% more coal, 57 percent more oil, and 71 percent more gas in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
. Global gas production is projected to increase the most between 2020 and 2040 based on governments’ plans. This continued, long-term global expansion in gas production is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement’s temperature limits.
. Countries have directed over 300 US billion dollars in new funds towards fossil fuel activities since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — more than they have towards clean energy.
“Early efforts from development finance institutions to cut international support for fossil fuel production are encouraging, but these changes need to be followed by concrete and ambitious fossil fuel exclusion policies to limit global warming to 1.5°C”, says Lucile Dufour, Senior Policy Advisor, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).
“Fossil-fuel-producing nations must recognize their role and responsibility in closing the production gap and steering us towards a safe climate future,” said Måns Nilsson, executive director at SEI.
The report is produced by the Stockholm Environment Institute, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), UNEP, and E3G, the independent European climate change think tank aimed at translating climate politics, economics and policies into action.
More than 40 researchers contributed to the analysis and review, spanning numerous universities, think tanks and other research organizations.
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