Big fossil fuel producers’ plans far exceed climate targets, U.N. says

The report included Arctic producers such as the United States, Norway and Russia.

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A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas on June 9, 2016. (Richard Carson / Reuters File Photo)

LONDON — Major economies will produce more than double the amount of coal, oil and gas in 2030 than is consistent with meeting climate goals set in the 2015 Paris accord to curb global warming, the United Nations and researchers said on Wednesday.

The U.N. Environment Programme’s annual production gap report measures the difference between governments’ planned production of fossil fuels and production levels which are consistent with meeting the temperature limits set in Paris.

Under the pact, nations have committed to a long-term goal of limiting average temperature rises to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to attempt to limit them even further to 1.5 degrees C.

The report, which analyzed 15 major fossil fuel producers, found they plan to produce, in total, around 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.

The size of that gap has not declined much since UNEP’s 2020 report, it added.

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The countries analyzed in the report were 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.

Representatives from nearly 200 countries will meet in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 for climate talks to strengthen action to tackle global warming under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Fossil fuels

Despite efforts to strengthen climate targets, most major oil and gas producers plan to increase production until 2030 or beyond, while several major coal producers plan to continue or even increase output, the report said.

The plans of the 15 countries analyzed envisage fossil fuel production increasing until at least 2040.

This would lead to about 240 percent more coal, 57 percent more oil, and 71 percent more gas in 2030 than what is required in order to curb the rate of global warming to 1.5C.

Of the three fuels, gas production is projected to increase the most between 2020 and 2040, based on the governments’ plans.

The International Energy Agency said in May that investors should not fund new oil, gas and coal supply projects if the world is to hit net zero emissions by mid-century.

“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 author of the new report.

The report was produced by UNEP, as well as experts from the Stockholm Environment Institute, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and think-tanks E3G and ODI.