Planned fossil fuel production by the world’s governments are projected to soar by 2030 and are incompatible with keeping global temperatures to 1.5°C to avoid a climate disaster. 

What is Happening?

Despite countries around the globe having publicly set net-zero emission targets and implementing various policies to help achieve the climate targets under the Paris Agreement, governments have failed to reduce fossil fuel production enough to limit global warming to 1.5C, according to a new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report

Based on assessment of recent national energy plans and projections, the report found that by 2030 governments will produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels consistent with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C, and 45% more than the world needs to limit warming to 2C. If this rate continues, by 2040, this excess grows to 190% and 89%, respectively.

Global coal production is set to surge 240% by the end of 2030, while both oil and gas production will rise up more than 57% and 71% respectively above climate goal limits. Though the report says coal will experience a “modest decrease”, gas production will continue to soar over the next 20 years. 

The UNEP study also produced a detailed analysis on 15 major fossil fuel producers and revealed that the US, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia and China have all been projected to increase their oil and gas production, while India and Russia intend to increase coal. The UK and Indonesia are two lone countries forecasted to reduce their fossil fuel production. 

“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 of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and a lead author of the report. “However, governments continue to plan for and support levels of fossil fuel production that are vastly in excess of what we can safely burn.”

Many countries were found to have allocated significant amounts of funds towards fossil fuel activities following the COVID-19 pandemic, amounting more than USD$300bn, which exceeds investments made for clean, renewable energy production.

With COP26, the UN climate summit, just a week’s away, governments must commit to slashing carbon emissions and rapidly reduce fossil fuel production rather than upping it, in order to keep the 1.5C threshold alive and for the world to avoid a climate catastrophe. 

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