Countries plan to produce some 110 percent more fossil fuels in 2030…UNEP’s Production Gap report finds
The world needs to cut by more than half its production of coal, oil and gas in the coming decade to maintain a chance of keeping global warming from reaching dangerous levels, according to a new United Nations-backed study.
The report published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on Wednesday found that while governments have made ambitious pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions, they are still planning to extract double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than what would be consistent with the 2015 Paris climate accord’s goal of keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Production Gap report, which was released 10 days before the COP26 climate summit – billed as key to the viability of the Paris Agreement temperature goals – analysed 15 major fossil fuel producers: 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 said government fossil fuel production plans this decade are “dangerously out of sync” with the emissions cuts needed.
The Report warned that countries plan to produce, in total, some 110 percent more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting the degree of warming to 1.5C, and 45 percent more than is consistent with 2C.
Global gas production is projected to increase the most between 2020 and 2040.
Countries have directed more than $300bn in new funds towards fossil fuel activities since the beginning of the pandemic – more than they have towards clean energy.
“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 1.5C,” said Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead report author from the Stockholm Environment Institute.
“However, governments continue to plan for and support levels of fossil fuel production that are vastly in excess of what we can safely burn.”
Repeat Drought in Mali
The 2015 Paris deal saw countries commit to limiting warming to between 1.5C and 2C through sweeping emissions cuts.
Under the deal, every signatory must submit renewed emissions-cutting plans – known as National Determined Contributions, or NDCs – every five years.
In an assessment last month, the UN said that taken together, countries’ latest NDCs – assuming they are fulfilled – put Earth on course to reach a “catastrophic” 2.7C of warming by 2100.
The organisers of COP26, which starts in Glasgow on October 31, say they want the summit to keep the 1.5C temperature goal within reach.
Last week, the International Energy Agency said the use of coal – the most polluting fossil fuel – had in fact increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. In May, it said that no new oil and gas production was compatible with the 1.5C target.
Over 650 People Arrested in D.C. During Week of Indigenous-led Climate Action Calling on Biden to be the Climate Leader he Promised to be
On the final day of protest, dozens of climate youth activists were arrested as they blocked an intersection near the U.S. Capitol, stressing the need for immediate climate action.
As environmental advocates from across the United States converged in Washington, D.C. last week to take part in the five day “People vs. Fossil Fuels” action, President Biden’s infrastructure package remained stalled, in part, by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s push to cut its largest climate measure.
The series of fossil fuel protests were organized by a coalition of over 25 environmental groups known as Build Back Fossil Free, a poke at Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. Indigenous leadership in the fight against fossil fuels was forefront at the rallies.
The week of protest included acts of civil disobedience leading to over 650 arrests. Most of the arrests took place in front of the White House, where sit-ins were held for four consecutive days. Others were arrested at the Department of Interior building, home to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), after holding a sit in inside on October 14.
And on the last day of the protest, October 15, further arrests were made when a group of Indigenous youth and their supporters participated in a sit-in at an intersection near the Capitol, blocking traffic and refusing to disperse when ordered to do so by the Capitol Police
At all of the actions last week, activists expressed their rage that Biden has not delivered on climate-related campaign promises, adding that the administration’s plans do not go far enough to protect the planet from the rapidly intensifying climate crisis.
“We need climate action now. We are out of time to address this issue,” said Zanagee Artis, the co-executive director of Zero Hour, a youth-led climate justice organization, during a rally near the U.S. Capitol on October 15. “I campaigned for Biden. I called voters in Philadelphia. Black and brown people voted in droves, young people voted in record numbers for a president who promised action on climate change. Now he has the power to revoke the permits for Line 3 [pipeline] and he has not. He has the power to stop DAPL and he has not. He has the power to revoke fossil fuel leases and he has not.”
A reporter at a White House briefing on October 14 pointed out that hundreds of climate protesters were in front of the White House demanding Biden stop approving fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency. The reporter then asked if the administration is considering or listening to their demands.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that they are listening. “I would encourage anyone out there, or not, to look at what the President is proposing, what he’s trying to push across the finish line at this point, which is an enormous investment and commitment to addressing the climate crisis,” she said.
However, the Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the leading groups behind the five-day protest, has come out against both major pieces of legislation, as previously reported by DeSmog. The network contends that each bill includes some form of fossil fuel subsidies — and that there is no time for a middle-of-the-road approach.
As Biden readies himself to leave for the COP26 United Nations climate summit next month, the planet is on track to warm more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. If greenhouse gas emissions aren’t rapidly reduced, scientists warn this level of global warming will likely cause irreversible warming of the planet, leading to increased catastrophic disasters including fires, heat and cold waves, flooding, and the intensifying of hurricanes.
Climate advocates during the D.C. protests warned that time is almost up to implement meaningful change. Sharon Lavigne, founder of community group RISE St. James from Louisiana, shared her firsthand account of what living with worsening climate impacts is like. Hurricane Ida destroyed her roof, which led to flooding inside her home, leaving it uninhabitable.
Many of the speakers during the five days of action highlighted the Biden administration’s failure to reject projects they say he has the power to stop right now, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Line 3 pipeline, and Formosa’s multi-billion-dollar plastics complex in Louisiana, among others.
“By refusing to stop major fossil fuel projects, President Biden has broken his promises to protect Indigenous rights, prioritize environmental justice, and fully address the climate crisis,” said an October 15 release from the organizers of the People vs. Fossil Fuels protests.
As the press release states, “new analysis from Oil Change International shows that if the Biden Administration moves ahead with 21 major fossil fuel infrastructure projects that are currently under federal review, it would be the emissions equivalent of adding 316 new coal-fired power plants — more than are currently operating in the United States. The total emissions from just these projects would represent 17% of total US greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.”
Advocates also warned about false solutions that the Biden administration and other Democratic Party centrists are embracing, such as carbon capture and hydrogen fuel made from natural gas, neither of which are commercially viable technologies.
“There is no time for parlor games like blue hydrogen or wolves in sheeps’ clothing like fracking,” Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and author who highlighted the health impacts of living near fracking industry sites, said before she was arrested in front of the White House on October 14. “Or unworkable, fanciful Rube Goldberg–contraptions like carbon capture and storage.”
That same day, on October 14, Louisiana’s Gov. John Bell Edwards welcomed a proposed $4.5 billion blue hydrogen clean energy complex.
The organizers of the D.C. protests have yet to announce their next moves following the five-day action, but the Indigenous activists who were in the streets vowed to do whatever it takes to protect the planet for the next seven generations.