The gap between climate rhetoric and reality: The Fossil Fuelled 5

Among those five wealthy countries analyzed, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Norway and Australia, all plan to approve and subsidize new fossil fuel projects despite their claims of leading in the climate fight, the report concluded.

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In a new report titled, The Fossil Fuelled 5, a gap between climate rhetoric and reality is “dangerously wide” in wealthy nations. Among those five wealthy countries analyzed, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Norway and Australia, all plan to approve and subsidize new fossil fuel projects despite their claims of leading in the climate fight, the report concluded.

The report analyzed “recent government announcements and the latest data on fossil fuel production” and found that the world’s wealthiest nations “are doubling down on fossil fuel production” which will “have disastrous impacts for all life on our planet, but especially those communities in the Global South who have done the least to create this crisis and have the fewest resources to adapt to its impacts.”

“There’s an alarming gap between what wealthy nations are saying and what they are doing,” Freddie Daley, research associate at the University of Sussex, said. “You would expect these five nations to provide the leadership needed to move the global economy away from fossil fuels and reduce emissions to zero. However, they seem to be quite content to make pledges and promises with one hand, while expanding and subsidizing fossil fuel production to the tune of billions on the other.”

The report, which was produced by the University of Sussex in conjunction with groups such as the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, Oil Change International, Uplift UK, Greenpeace Norway, The Australia Institute, and Stand.earth, found country-specific analysis to include:

  • The United States has pledged to halve emissions by 2030 yet have simultaneously provided $20 billion in annual support to the fossil fuel industry. 
  • Despite hosting COP26, the United Kingdom is expected to green light the Cambo oil field, which contains approximately 255 million barrels of oil.
  • Canada is looking to increase their price on carbon but also provided approximately $17 billion in public finance to three fossil fuel pipelines between 2018 and 2020.
  • Norway has raised its ambition to decrease emissions but has already granted 60+ new licenses for fossil fuel production and access to 84 new exploration zones in 2021 alone.
  • Despite its recent commitment to net zero by 2050, Australia has over 100 fossil fuel projects currently in the approval pipeline. 

“This new report makes it clear the U.S. remains a massive driver of oil and gas expansion, and that won’t change until our leaders commit to a managed phase-out of fossil fuel extraction that truly protects communities, workers, and the climate,” Collin Rees, U.S. program manager at Oil Change International, said.

The five nations have “provided over $150 billion in public support for the fossil fuel production and consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the report. While the countries are likely to reduce coal production, an analysis showed the countries will “actually increase oil and gas production by 33 percent and 27 percent, respectively” instead of leading the transition away from fossil fuels as previously claimed.

“Not only are these wealthy nations jeopardizing their own futures and the futures of their citizens through this continued expansion, but they are condemning communities in the global south to a state of perpetual crisis which they did nothing to create,” Daley said. “If these nations want to be climate pioneers, it is time they addressed the elephant in the room: fossil fuels.”

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