Big fossil fuel producers' plans exceed climate targets – UN report

25 October 2021

Despite efforts to strengthen climate targets, most major oil and gas producers plan to increase production until 2030 or beyond, according to a new UN report published on 20 October. 

Major economies will produce more than double the amount of coal, oil and gas in 2030 than is consistent with meeting climate goals set in the 2015 Paris accord to curb global warming. 

The UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) annual production gap report measures the difference between governments' planned production of fossil fuels and production levels which are consistent with meeting the temperature limits set in Paris. Under the Paris agreement, nations have committed to a long-term goal of limiting average temperature rises to less than 2 degC above pre-industrial levels and to attempt to limit them even further to 1.5 degC.

The report, which analysed 15 major fossil fuel producers, found they plan to produce, in total, around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting the degree of warming to 1.5 degC, and 45% more than is consistent with 2 degC.

The size of that gap has not reduced much since UNEP's 2020 report, it added.

The countries analysed in the report are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Representatives from nearly 200 countries will meet in Glasgow, Scotland, from 31 October to 12 November for climate talks to strengthen action to tackle global warming under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The plans of the 15 countries analysed envisage fossil fuel production increasing until at least 2040. This would lead to about 240% more coal, 57% more oil, and 71% more gas in 2030, than the levels required to curb the rate of global warming to 1.5C. Of the three fuels, gas production is projected to increase the most between 2020 and 2040.

The International Energy Agency reported in May that investors should not fund new oil, gas and coal supply projects if the world is to hit net zero emissions by mid-century. "The research is clear: global coal, oil, and gas production must start declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming to 1.5C," said Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead author of the new report.

The report was produced by UNEP, the Stockholm Environment Institute, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and think-tanks E3G and ODI.


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