Fossil fuel addiction still gripping many nations: Report

by IANS |



New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) A new report published on Wednesday finds that governments plan to produce?around?110 per cent more?fossil fuels?in 2030?than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,?and 69 per cent more than would be consistent with 2 degrees.


This despite?the fact that 151 national governments having pledged to achieve net-zero emissions and the latest forecasts which suggest that global coal, oil, and gas demand will peak this decade, even without new policies.


When combined, government plans would lead to an increase in global coal production until 2030, and in global oil and gas production until at least 2050, creating an ever-widening fossil fuel production gap over time.


The report’s main findings include:?Given risks and uncertainties of carbon capture and storage and carbon dioxide removal, countries should aim for a near total phase-out of coal production and use by 2040, and a combined reduction in oil and gas production and use by three-quarters by 2050 from 2020 levels, at a minimum.


While 17 of the 20 countries featured have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions -- and many have launched initiatives to cut emissions from fossil fuel production activities -- none have committed to reduce coal, oil, and gas production in line with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.


Governments with greater capacity to transition away from fossil fuels should aim for more ambitious reductions and help support the transition processes in countries with limited resources.


The 2023 Production Gap Report: “Phasing down or phasing up? Top fossil fuel producers plan even more extraction despite climate promises” is produced by Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Climate Analytics, E3G, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).


It assesses?governments’ planned and projected production of coal, oil, and gas against global levels consistent with the Paris Agreement’s temperature?goal.


“Governments are literally doubling down on fossil fuel production; that spells double trouble for people and the planet,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.


“We cannot address climate catastrophe without tackling its root cause: Fossil fuel dependence. COP28 must send a clear signal that the fossil fuel age is out of gas -- that its end is inevitable. We need credible commitments to ramp up renewables, phase out fossil fuels, and boost energy efficiency, while ensuring a just, equitable transition.”


July 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded, and most likely the hottest for the past 120,000 years, according to scientists.


Across the globe, deadly heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods are costing lives and livelihoods, making clear that human-induced climate change is here.


Global carbon dioxide emissions -- almost 90 per cent of which come from fossil fuels -- rose to record highs in 2021-2022.


“Governments’ plans to expand fossil fuel production are undermining the energy transition needed to achieve net-zero emissions, throwing humanity’s future into question,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.


“Powering economies with clean and efficient energy is the only way to end energy poverty and bring down emissions at the same time.”


“Starting at COP28, nations must unite behind a managed and equitable phase-out of coal, oil and gas -- to ease the turbulence ahead and benefit every person on this planet,” she added.


The?2023 Production Gap Report provides newly expanded country profiles for 20 major fossil-fuel-producing countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and Northern Ireland, and the US.


These profiles show that most of these governments continue to provide significant policy and financial support for fossil fuel production.


“We find that many governments are promoting fossil gas as an essential ‘transition’ fuel but with no apparent plans to transition away from it later,” says Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead author on the report and SEI scientist.


“But science says we must start reducing global coal, oil, and gas production and use now -- along with scaling up clean energy, reducing methane emissions from all sources, and other climate actions -- to keep the 1.5-degree goal alive.”


Despite being the root cause of the climate crisis, fossil fuels have remained largely absent from international climate negotiations until recent years.


At COP26 in late 2021, governments committed to accelerate efforts towards “the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”, though they did not agree to address the production of all fossil fuels.


More than 80 researchers, from over 30 countries, contributed to the analysis and review, spanning numerous universities, think tanks and other?research organizations.



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