September 18, 2019

Latest Research Shows: Fossil Fuel Production Plans Burn Through Climate Targets

Fossil fuel production controls must be discussed at UN Summit

Responding to a preliminary working-paper-brief released by the Stockholm Environment Institute, highlighted the importance of phasing out fossil fuel production as a key international goal for climate action.

The research, which represents the preliminary findings of a fuller analysis of fossil fuel production plans and climate targets that will be released in November, finds that:

  • The world is on track to produce 50% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with a 2°C pathway and, 
  • 120% more than would be consistent with a 1.5°C pathway.

May Boeve, Executive Director of said:

“The gap between climate promises and fossil fuel production is huge. We’re in a hole and the response of the fossil fuel industry is to keep digging. The UN Climate Summit should be the signal to down shovels. This research proves that there is simply no way new coal, oil, and gas projects are compatible with climate goals.” 

Each year UNEP releases “the Emissions Gap Report” that focuses on overall emissions and planned targets, its most recent finding was that countries need to triple their emission reduction pledges to limit warming to the Paris goal of “well below” 2°C and increase reductions fivefold for a 1.5°C scenario.

This new research suggests that the emissions gap could be widened by the lesser-known “production gap.” Countries continue to expand the production of coal, oil, and gas, creating a significant gap between that expansion and the limits of a 1.5°C or 2°C carbon budget. 

Commenting on the release of the research,  Professor of Social Ecology and Ecological Economics at the University of Leeds, and a Lead Author of the IPCC 6th Assessment Report with Working Group 3, Prof. Julia K. Steinberger said.

“This report really shines a light on the fact that reducing emissions can only happen if we act to sunset the fossil fuel industry. The Paris Agreement mentions emissions, without naming fossil fuels or their industries once. This deliberate omission is due to the complicity and corruption of most of the world’s governments, who are under the influence of this large and profitable sector. If we do not face this political and economic reality, and work to counter it through all possible non-violent democratic means, we will allow the fossil industries to sacrifice our children’s future, just for a few more years of massive profits.”

Professor of Global Environmental Politics, College of the Atlantic and expert reviewer of the IPCC Special Report into Global Warming of 1.5C, Professor Doreen Stabinsky,  said:

The climate science is very clear and is posing a very hard question for policy makers. There is a huge gap between the targets and the planned investments in fossil fuel infrastructure and this must be addressed. This emerging research shows we are currently on track to overshoot the Paris targets and so drastic action is required to reverse this trend. It is hard to see how any new coal, oil, or gas infrastructure is compatible with Paris agreement and climate goals.” 

The importance of policies to phase out fossil fuels has become increasingly central to the global climate movement, with it appearing as a central demand for the youth-led climate strikes

Internationally, Pacific Island States have called for coal-phase out plans specifically, and the UNSG himself has called for no new coal power plants post-2020.