Production of Fossil Fuels is Dangerously “Not in Line” with Climate Change Objectives

Despite increasing climate ambition and net-zero commitments, nations still expect to produce more than double the amount of energy from fossil fuels in 2030 that is required to keep global temperature below 1.5°C as set out in the Paris Agreement. 

According to the 2021 Production Gap Report, which was released on Wednesday by prominent research institutes and the United Nations Environment Programme, this is the case (UNEP). 

Governments anticipate an increase in worldwide oil and gas output over the next two decades, but only a minor decline in coal production. 

These plans, taken collectively, indicate that global fossil fuel production will rise until at least 2040. 

There is still time to restrict long-term warming to 1.5°C [over pre-industrial levels], according to UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen, but the window of opportunity is fast closing. 

Ms. Andersen stated that nations must step up at the United Nations Climate Conference, COP26, in early November in Glasgow, by taking swift and immediate steps to close the fossil fuel output gap and secure a just and equitable transition. 

In this year’s report, 15 major producer countries are profiled, with the majority indicating that they will continue to support fossil fuel production expansion. 

In response to the study, UN Secretary-General cited recent announcements by the world’s top economies to end coal finance as a “much-needed step” in the phase-out of fossil fuels. 

In 2030, the countries polled plan to produce almost 110 percent more fossil fuels than would be required to stay inside the 1.5°C limits, and 45 % more than would be required to avoid a 2°C warming impact. 

The analysis, which was initially published in 2019, compares government output plans to levels that are consistent with the Paris Agreement. The extent of the deficit has stayed basically unchanged over the last two years. 

In 2030, current projections will result in around 240 % more coal, 57 % more oil, and 71 % more gas output than would be consistent with reducing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

Between 2020 and 2040, worldwide gas output is expected to rise the highest, continuing a long-term trend of global development that runs counter to the Paris Agreement. 

Countries have directed nearly $300 billion in new funds toward fossil fuel initiatives since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, far more than they have directed toward clean energy. 

Global public finance for fossil fuels from G20 countries and large multilateral development institutions, on the other hand, has fallen. Currently, a third of these banks and G20 development finance organizations have policies in place that prohibit further fossil fuel output. 

According to the report, “global coal, oil, and gas production must begin decreasing immediately and rapidly if long-term warming is to be limited to 1.5°C”. 

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), ODI, E3G, and UNEP collaborated on the report. 

Several universities think tanks, and other research institutions contributed more than 80 scholars to the investigation and assessment.