By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
Less than a month before world leaders meet at the UN Climate Talks in the UAE, a major new report published today by the UN Environment Programme confirms that, despite their climate pledges, governments still plan to produce around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.
This edition of the report, produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Climate Analytics, E3G and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) profiled 20 major producer countries – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United States, and United Kingdom.
The Production Gap Report warns that fossil fuel extraction plans are undermining the world’s chances of meeting our global climate targets. This comes just a few days after the IEA released the latest edition of the World Energy Outlook 2023 which concluded that fossil fuel demand is likely to peak in the next five years, and that to make the urgently needed energy transition, a fossil fuel phase-out is “unstoppable”.
The research shows that 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 reducing coal, oil, and gas production in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C, and instead continue to provide significant policy and financial support for fossil fuel development.
Executive Director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, Alex Rafalowicz, said:
“World leaders can no longer look away from the undeniable truth: to meet the Paris temperature goal we need a managed and equitable phase-out of fossil fuel production. People talk about a transition but it’s not a transition if you’re expanding the problem, and the UN is clear today – the hole we’re in is just getting bigger.
The climate crisis is a fossil fuel crisis, and the proliferation of fossil fuel infrastructure is one of the greatest safety risks of the 21st century. Ending the proliferation of new fossil fuel projects, and planning for their fair phase-out, is the ultimate demonstration of true climate leadership. Science is screaming at us today, we can see the impacts across the globe, and the market case is increasingly clear. For the love of our children, governments need to negotiate a binding, global plan for managing this transition through a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
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. The research highlights how the persistence of the global production gap puts a well-managed and equitable energy transition at risk and reinforces that rich nations should aim for more ambitious reductions and support countries with limited resources to transition away from fossil fuels.
To address this Production Gap, a growing bloc of nation-states is leading an effort to secure a mandate to negotiate a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty – a global framework that can end the expansion of coal, oil and gas, and chart a global plan to not only phase out fossil fuels in line with our 1.5ºC target, but also manage a just transition where no worker, community or country is left behind.
The Production Gap report itself specifically mentions that “The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (FFNPT) Initiative offers another example of an international initiative to promote a coordinated phaseout of fossil fuel production.” It also stresses that “to date, only about a dozen countries are members or endorsers of two initiatives to facilitate the managed phase-out of fossil fuel production: the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance or the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Except for Colombia, the world’s top 35 fossil fuel producers are not among these countries.”
The push for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is now spearheaded by a bloc of eight nation-states – Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tonga, Fiji, Niue, the Solomon Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and Timor-Leste. They are also supported by endorsements for the proposal from the World Health Organization, the European Parliament, 101 Nobel Laureates, 700+ parliamentarians in 83 countries, 2,100 civil society organizations, 3,000 scientists and academics and almost 100 cities and subnational governments, including most recently the State of California, the fifth largest economy in the world.
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative is spurring international cooperation to end new development of fossil fuels, phase out existing production within the agreed climate limit of 1.5°C and develop plans to support workers, communities and countries dependent on fossil fuels to create secure and healthy livelihoods. For more information on the Fossil Fuel Treaty, access here.