Climate Change

Too much fossil fuel output planned to cap global warming: UN report

Global production of coal, oil and gas should decline annually by 11%, 4%, and 3% to be consistent with the 1.5°C pathway, according to The Production Gap report

By Susan Chacko
Published: Friday 04 December 2020

The volume of fossil fuel that various countries plan to draw up will be more than double the limit that can ensure that global warming is capped at 1.5-2 degree Celsius, estimated a new report.

This report highlighted the discrepancy between countries’ planned fossil fuel production levels and the global levels necessary to limit warming to 1.5-2°C.

The much anticipated United Nations report warned that to follow a 1.5°C-consistent pathway, the governments would need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6 per cent a year between 2020 and 2030. They are, instead, projecting an average annual increase of 2 per cent. This, by 2030, would result in more than double the production consistent with the 1.5°C limit. 

The Production Gap report, published December 2,2020, added that the countries less dependent on fossil fuel production and having higher financial and institutional capacity could transition away from fossil fuels faster. Those with higher dependence and lower capacity would require greater international support.

The report looked at what the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the lockdown measures meant for the production gap, and how governments can set the stage for a long-term and equitable transition away from fossil fuels.

Equitable transition from fossil fuels 

Policymakers support a managed, just and equitable wind-down of fossil fuel production through six areas of action, according to the report:

  • Sustainable stimulus and recovery packages
  • Increased support for just and equitable transitions
  • Reduced support for fossil fuels
  • Restrictions on production
  • Improved transparency and
  • Global cooperation

Pre-COVID-19 plans and post-COVID-19 stimulus measures point to a continuation of the growing global fossil fuel production gap, risking severe climate disruption. Governments have committed far more COVID-19 funds to fossil fuels than to clean energy.

 “This year’s devastating forest fires, floods and droughts and other unfolding extreme weather events serve as powerful reminders for why we must succeed in tackling the climate crisis. As we seek to reboot economies following the COVID-19 pandemic, investing instead in low-carbon energy and infrastructure is good for jobs, for economies, for health and for clean air,” said Inger Andersen, executive director, UNEP.

The report stressed the government policies must decrease the demand and supply for fossil fuels and offer support to communities dependent on them.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures to halt its spread led to short-term drops in coal, oil and gas production in 2020. But pre-COVID-19 plans and post-COVID-19 stimulus measures point to a continuation of the growing global fossil fuel production gap, locking in severe climate disruption.

This report gains more urgency in the light of the study conducted by Energy Policy Tracker July 15, 2020, which showed that the Group of 20 countries were banking on fossil fuel-based recovery as a response to the pandemic.

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