Global fossil fuel production set to be 50% higher than Paris limits

The total output of fossil fuels that governments are planning to produce by 2030 is about 50% higher than what is consistent with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise within 2°C, a new report has stated.

Examining the production plans, forecast and subsidies of 10 major producers or consumers of fossil fuels, the researchers found that many countries are “banking on export markets to justify major increases in production”, or are ramping up the domestic production of fossil fuels to curb the need for imports. 

“The net result could be significant over-investment, increasing the risk of stranded assets, workers, and communities, as well as locking in a higher emissions trajectory,” says the report, which was produced by the UN Environment Programme and a number of research institutes.

In total, planned fossil fuel production by 2030 will emit 39 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide, around 13 Gt more than what is consistent with a 2°C pathway and 21 Gt more than a 1.5°C pathway. 

The current forecasts would also exceed the production levels required for Paris Agreement signatories to meet their nationally determined contributions, which the green groups are urging governments to revise upwards in the build-up to December’s climate conference in Madrid, COP25. 

Governments should scrap subsidies for fossil fuels, ban new extraction permits and put in place measures to help negatively affected by the low-carbon transition, the research says. 

“Measures to move away from fossil fuel production are more effective when countries adopt them together,” it adds, “and international cooperation can send a clear signal to policymakers, investors, consumers, and civil society that the world is shifting towards a low-carbon future.”

The report looks at seven of the largest fossil fuel producers - China, the US, Russia, India, Australia and Canada - along with three relatively smaller producers with strong climate ambitions - Germany, Norway and the UK. 

simon.pickstone@haymarket.com

Follow up: Production Gap executive summary, full report

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