Global fossil fuel production plans far exceed climate targets, UN says

November 10, 2023

Originally published by Reuters. Written b.
  • Report comes ahead of COP 28 climate talks
  • Oil cut of almost 70% from current level by 2050 needed

LONDON, Nov 8 (Reuters) – Global fossil fuel production in 2030 is set to be more than double the level deemed consistent with meeting climate goals set under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the United Nations and researchers said on Wednesday.

The U.N. Environment Programme’s (UNEP) report, assessing the gap in fossil fuel production cuts and what’s needed to meet climate goals, comes ahead of the global COP 28 climate meeting which starts on Nov. 30 in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“Fossil fuel phase out is one of the pivotal issues that will be negotiated at COP 28,” Ploy Achakulwisut, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) scientist and a lead author of the report said in a press briefing.

“We need countries to commit to a phase out of all fossil fuels to keep the 1.5C goal alive,” she said.

Under the Paris 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 1.5C.

While scientists say fossil fuel use must be reduced to meet the goal, countries have failed to reach any international agreement on set phase out dates for unabated coal, gas or oil use.

The report analysed the 20 major fossil fuel producers and found they plan to produce, in total, around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting the degree of warming to 1.5C, and 69% more than is consistent with 2C.

None of the 20 countries have committed to reduce coal, oil, and gas production in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C, the report said.

It said 17 of the countries have pledged to reach net zero emissions but most continue to promote, subsidise, support and plan the expansion of fossil fuel production.

RISING OIL PRODUCTION

Under current projections the data shows oil production will equate to 218 exajoules per year (EJ/y) by 2030, rising to 221 EJ/y by 2050, equivalent to around 114 million barrels of oil a day (bpd) and 116 million bpd respectively.

However, to remain in line with the 1.5C target the production would need to be 168 EJ/y or 88 million bpd in 2030 and 61 EJ/y or 32 million bpd by 2050, the report showed.

Current global oil production is almost 102 million bpd, according to International Energy Agency data, meaning that production would need to fall by around 14% by 2030 and 69% by 2050 from current levels to be in line with the 1.5C target.

The 20 countries analysed account for 82% of global fossil fuel production and 73% of consumption, the report said and include Australia, China, Norway, Qatar, Britain, the UAE and the United States.

The report was produced by UNEP, as well as experts from the SEI, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and think-tank E3G and policy institute Climate Analytics.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale; editing by Ed Osmond and Christina Fincher