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UN warns fossil fuel production plans out of sync with Paris agreement

By Femi Adekoya
21 October 2021   |   4:18 am
Oil, gas, and coal production plans of some of the world's biggest oil, gas, and coal producers, including Nigeria, far exceed the emissions targets set in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the 2021 Production Gap Report of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has stated.

Oil, gas, and coal production plans of some of the world’s biggest oil, gas, and coal producers, including Nigeria, far exceed the emissions targets set in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the 2021 Production Gap Report of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has stated.

According to the report, 15 big fossil fuel producers, most of whom are developed countries and parties to the accord, intended to produce 110 percent more oil, coal, and gas in 2030 than is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s scenario for limiting rising temperatures to 1.5 degrees from the pre-industrial era, and 45 percent more than is consistent with the 2-degree scenario.

Earlier, Tearfund, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Overseas Development Institute in their analysis noted that nations that make up the G7 have pumped billions of dollars more into fossil fuels than they have into clean energy since the Covid-19 pandemic, despite their promises of a green recovery.

The analysis revealed that the G7 countries committed $189bn to support oil, coal and gas between January 2020 and March 2021. In comparison, the same countries – the UK, US, Canada, Italy, France, Germany and Japan – spent $147bn on clean forms of energy.

Also, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has said oil will retain its number one position in the energy mix, providing 28 per cent of global energy needs, hinging its argument on a world population that is set to expand to 9.5 billion by 2045 and huge potential for socio-economic development in terms of expanding access to modern energy services for the under-served.

With the exception of coal which will remain stunted, the cartel stated that renewables’ global fuel share will rise over 10% by 2045, followed by gas, driven in part by higher urbanisation rates, industrial demand and its competitiveness over coal in power generation.

OPEC in its latest World Oil Outlook, predicted that global oil demand will rise from a pandemic stricken 90.6 million b/d in 2020 to 108.2 million b/d in 2045, from which it will remain largely flat.

The UNEP noted that the world’s big fossil fuel producers plan to continue raising oil and gas production over the next 20 years, adding that coal production is seen declining only marginally, a move that is even more out of sync with Paris Agreement targets.

“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,” Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, said in the report.

“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 study detailed in the report examined the fossil fuel extraction plans of the following 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.

It found that the governments of most of these countries are still supportive of their fossil fuel plans despite the green energy transition drive.

“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,” said Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead author on 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.”