Fossil fuel extraction set to dig a 'deep hole' in climate pledge
Updated 17:22, 21-Nov-2019
Alok Gupta

The global production of fossil fuels will massively surpass the target required to keep global temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius pledged under the Paris Climate Agreement, warned a report released on Wednesday.

In order to address the global climate crisis, the Paris Climate Agreement outlined the target of limiting global temperature rise to within 2 degrees Celsius. Governments around the world are expected to extract 50 percent more fossil fuels—coal, oil and gas—in 2030, than this target, and 120 percent more than the more ambitious target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Heat-trapping emissions from fossil fuels have been linked to triggering global warming. A majority of the countries under the Paris Climate Agreement pledged to reduce emissions under Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), but the reality of meeting these projections appears bleak.  

Emissions from burning fossil fuels account for 70 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions and over 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

Among fossil fuels, coal production will witness the highest jump with an increase of 150 percent in 2030. Emissions from coal alone would greatly hamper the global effort to meet the target of 2 degrees Celsius, and is nearly double the limit required to keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The report, titled The Production Gap, is the first assessment of whether or not fossil fuel production by governments are aligned with their climate goals. "Countries need to triple their emission reduction pledges to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius — and quintuple them to reach a 1.5 degrees Celsius goal," wrote the report.

"Despite more than two decades of climate policy-making, fossil fuel production levels are higher than ever," said SEI's executive director, Måns Nilsson. "This report shows that governments' continued support for coal, oil and gas extraction is a big part of the problem. We're in a deep hole – and we need to stop digging."

Globally, 27 countries contribute nearly 90 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. The top nine producing countries alone account for over two-thirds of global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels when estimated from an extraction-based perspective.

The researchers also reviewed the national plans and projections of the top 10 fossil-fuel-producing countries: China, the United States, Russia, India, Australia, Indonesia, Canada, Germany, Norway, and the UK.

"This report shows, for the first time, just how big the disconnect is between Paris temperature goals and countries' plans and policies for coal, oil, and gas production," said Michael Lazarus, a lead author of the report.

The projections suggest that countries are planning to mine 17 percent more coal, extract 10 percent more oil and increase gas production by five percent in 2030. The increase is inconsistent with the NDC pledge.

Countries should put a cap on the exploration and extraction of fossil fuel, removing subsidies to align with the climate goals, the report suggests.

"The world's energy supply remains dominated by coal, oil and gas, driving emission levels that are inconsistent with climate goals," said Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.