The world is on track to produce far more coal, oil and gas than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C, creating a ‘production gap’ that makes climate goals much harder to reach, according to a first-of-its-kind report.
The Production Gap Report – produced by leading research organisations and the UN – is the first assessment of the gap between Paris Agreement goals and countries’ planned production of coal, oil and gas.
The report complements the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report, which shows that country pledges fall short of the emission reductions needed to meet global temperature limits.
Understanding ‘unfettered expansion’
Countries are planning to produce fossil fuels far in excess of the levels needed to fulfil their climate pledges under the Paris Agreement, which themselves are far from adequate. This over-investment in coal, oil and gas supply locks in fossil fuel infrastructure that will make emissions reductions harder to achieve.
‘Over the past decade, the climate conversation has shifted. There’s greater recognition of the role that the unfettered expansion of fossil fuel production plays in undermining climate progress.
‘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. It also shares solutions, suggesting ways to help close this gap through domestic policies and international cooperation.’
Lead author and director of Stockholm Environment Institute’s US Center
A new metric for climate debates
The report was produced by leading research organisations including the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), International Institute for Sustainable Development, Overseas Development Institute, CICERO Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research, Climate Analytics, and UNEP.
Over 50 researchers contributed to the analysis and review, spanning numerous universities and additional research organisations.
In the report preface, UNEP executive director Inger Andersen notes that carbon emissions have remained exactly at the levels projected a decade ago, under the business-as-usual scenarios used in Emissions Gap Reports.
‘This calls for a sharpened, and long overdue, focus on fossil fuels’, she writes. ‘The world’s energy supply remains dominated by coal, oil and gas, driving emission levels that are inconsistent with climate goals. To that end, this report introduces the fossil fuel production gap, a new metric that clearly shows the gap between increasing fossil fuel production and the decline needed to limit global warming.’