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Governments Still Fall Dangerously Short Of Paris Agreement Commitments

Above Photo: COP21 protesters in Paris. Boris Allin / Libération.

A new report by leading research institutes and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Report finds that even though world governments have stepped up their game with climate ambitions and net-zero commitments, their plans would still mean they would produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than what we would need to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The 2021 Production Gap Report, first published in 2019, measures the gap between governments’ planned production of coal, oil, and gas and the global production levels consistent with meeting the Paris Agreement temperature limits. But two years later, the 2021 report finds the production gap mostly unchanged.

In fact, over the next two decades, governments are collectively projecting an increase in global oil and gas production, and only a small decrease in coal production. Taken together, their plans and projections see global, total fossil fuel production increasing until at least 2040, creating an ever-widening gap.

“The devastating impacts of climate change are here for all to see. There is still time to limit long-term warming to 1.5°C, but this window of opportunity is rapidly closing,” says Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “At COP26 and beyond, the world’s governments must step up, taking rapid and immediate steps to close the fossil fuel production gap and ensure a just and equitable transition. This is what climate ambition looks like.”

The 2021 Production Gap Report provides country profiles for 15 major producer countries: 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. The profiles show that most of these governments continue to give significant support, at least in terms of policy making, for 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 1.5°C,” says Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead author on the report and SEI scientist. “However, governments continue to plan for and support levels of fossil fuel production that are vastly in excess of what we can safely burn.”

The report’s main findings include:

  • The world’s governments plan to produce around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, and 45% more than consistent with 2°C. The size of the production gap has remained largely unchanged compared to prior assessments.
  • Governments’ production plans and projections would lead to about 240% more coal, 57% more /oil, and 71% more gas in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
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