By Caroline Varin
November 8, 2023 - Governments' plans on fossil fuels remain misaligned with global climate targets, with coal, oil and gas production in 2030 set to be 110pc higher than levels consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, the Paris climate agreement's most ambitious goal, according to a report released today.
Under current plans, 69pc more fossil fuels than would be consistent with a 2°C temperature limit will be produced in 2030, according to non-profit organisations Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Climate Analytics, E3G, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the UN Environment Programme (Unep).
Planned fossil fuel production is 350pc and 150pc above output consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C, respectively. The Paris climate agreement aims to limit warming to "well below" 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and preferably to no more than 1.5°C.
This translates into production gaps — the difference between planned production and levels consistent with the Paris agreements goals — of 22Gt of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) under a 1.5°C pathway and 17Gt CO2e under a 2°C pathway. The production gap for oil is 26mn b/d in 2030 and 84mn b/d in 2050, and 2.2 trillion m³ in 2030 and 3.8 trillion m³ in 2050 for gas. It is 6.9bn t for coal in 2030 and 4.8bn t in 2050.
The report suggests that to limit temperature increases to 1.5°C, governments should aim for a "near total phase-out of coal production and use by 2040 and for cutting oil and gas production and use by three quarters by 2050 from 2020 levels".
"Higher-income countries with greater financial and institutional capacity could go further than the global average, which would contribute to making the required transition more equitable," it said. But based on government plans and projections, coal, oil, and gas production in Australia, Canada, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UK, and the US would bust 1.5°C-consistent pathways for each fuel by around 2040.
Planned and projected oil and gas production in 12 countries — Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nigeria, the UK, and the US — would exceed global levels under 1.5°C-consistent pathways by 2040, the report said.
"Only a few countries have begun to consider the alignment of their fossil fuel production and export targets with national and international climate goals". The report found many governments are promoting gas as a "transition fuel" but have no plans to transition away from it later.
Governments offer various rationales for continuing to support and expand fossil fuel production, including "meeting expected demand, reducing dependency and foreign exchange costs on imports, generating revenue for government services through taxes and royalties, following through on legal obligations under existing statutes and treaties, and confidence in winning out as one of the last producers in a dwindling market."
The report highlighted the need to establish clear targets for the reduction of fossil fuels output and demand and for countries to discuss the misalignment between output plans and climate targets "adequately" and raise negotiations at the upcoming UN Cop climate summit.