(21 October 2021) - Governments are planning 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, according to a new report published today by UNEP and the SEI.
The report notes that global fossil fuel production must start declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming to 1.5°C. But, 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. The production gap is widest for coal in 2030: governments’ production plans and projections would lead to around 240% more coal, 57% more oil, and 71% more gas than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C (based on scenarios compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
According to the 2021 Production Gap report, governments are planning and projecting production levels higher than those implied by the emission reduction goals specified in their national climate plans (called nationally determined contributions, or NDCs).
An article by the University College London, published in Nature last month, says that to have a 50% probability of limiting warming to 1.5°C, nearly 60% of oil and fossil methane gas, and 90% of coal must remain in the ground. Oil and gas production must decline globally by 3% each year until 2050. This implies that most regions must reach peak production now or during the next decade, rendering many operational and planned fossil fuel projects unviable.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Lead Climate & Energy said: “We must see leaders turning their words into tangible actions, and clear plans on how they are going to deliver their pledges. Global leaders meeting in the next few weeks, at the G20 Leaders Summit and then at the climate COP26, will decide on the pathways the world chooses for tackling the climate crisis over the next decade, and they must not fail.”
Vanessa Perez-Cirera, Global Deputy Lead Climate & Energy said: “We know that an unmanaged transition away from fossil fuels can lead to high oil and gas prices and, for example, create energy access problems. We are already seeing it with inflation and shortages across Europe and elsewhere. But what we also know is that the circa US$5 trillion being spent in fossil fuels subsidies around the world could be repurposed into progressive policies and fiscal incentives to enact a just, clean, and urgent energy transition for all.”
Dean Cooper, WWF Global Energy Transition Lead, said: “The discrepancy between country national climate commitments and government fossil fuel production plans is astonishing. The science shows that we must hold global warming to 1.5°C if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. We need to see clarity about the action that will be taken to reduce emissions. We’re already, at 1.2°C of warming, with impacts affecting lives and livelihoods in all parts of the world. It’s no longer an option for individual countries or businesses to participate – we’re all in this together.”
The 2021 Production Gap Report tracks how governments worldwide are supporting fossil fuel production through their policies, investments, and other measures. It also shows how some countries are beginning to discuss and enact policies towards a managed and equitable transition away from fossil fuel production.
This year’s report features individual country profiles for 15 major fossil fuel-producing countries: China, Russia, US, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Australia, India, Canada, UAE, South Africa, Brazil, Norway, Mexico, UK, Germany.
Notes for Editors:
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- Assessment of the production gap is based on recent and publicly accessible plans and projections for fossil fuel production published by governments and affiliated institutions.
- The report is online here: https://productiongap.org/