Climate change: Countries choose fossil fuels over clean energy, report says

To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), which scientists say could avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, countries need to shut down fossil fuel production by 6% a year by 2030. the 2020 production gap report.

Instead, countries are well on their way to growing at 2% a year.

And while governments are putting money into their economies to recover from the coronavirus epidemic, they could run the risk of shutting the world into a climate catastrophe if they put more effort into the fossil fuel industries – such as energy, aviation and the automotive industry. a new analysis of the Stockholm Institute for the Environment, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), E3G and the United Nations Environment Program.

“We are in a critical situation at the moment. Although global fossil fuel production will fall sharply this year, government action and recovery measures are ready to shape our climate future,” said Ploy Pattanun Achakulwisut, a SEI scientist and report.

“They can return to pre-Covid production levels, which will close the severe climate disruption, or provide a basis for a controlled elimination of fossil fuel production.”

How far off the line is the production of fossil fuels for climate purposes?

According to last year’s first production gap report, governments are expected to produce 120% more fossil fuels by 2030 than scientists say they will not allow the planet to heat to 1.5 ° C (50 ° C). , and 50% more than what we can burn to warm to 2 ° C (3.6 ° F). These figures will remain unchanged this year.

The report examines whether plans for future fossil fuel production are in line with global promises to reduce emissions of thermal traps.

The results suggest that the actions of many countries do not match their words. While some say they plan to reduce their emissions, many continue to invest in new fossil fuel projects.

This year, several major polluting countries have pledged to reach zero net emissions by 2050, including the United States, Japan and South Korea, and China is committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2060. However, there is a long way to go.

The report found that from now until 2030, global coal production should fall by 11% a year, along with a 4% drop in oil production and a 3% drop in gas production.

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Covid-19’s blockade measures have resulted in a short-term decline in coal, oil and gas production this year, but epidemic recovery funds are disproportionately strengthening the global fossil fuel industry rather than clean energy.

G20 governments have committed more than $ 233 billion in Covid-19 measures to sectors responsible for the production and consumption of fossil fuels. That’s comparable to about $ 150 billion in clean energy projects, the report found.

While the report highlighted some positive areas, such as Canada’s $ 1.8 billion commitment to reduce methane emissions and clean up oil and gas wells, other incentives have provided unconditional support for fossil fuel production without social or environmental conditions.

According to the report, these include tax cuts on imports of fossil fuels from Argentina, equity and loan guarantees for the Canystone XL pipeline in Canada, a rebate on coal mining revenues owed to the Government of India, and a temporary tax relief package for oil and gas. In Norway, declining industry and oil and gas tariffs, as well as weakening environmental standards in the United States.

“This is money that has been borrowed from future generations. And if we are not thorough about how we invest money and constantly invest in fossil fuels, we will not only provide a worse atmosphere for our children, but will also waste money,” said Niklas Hagelberg, UNEP Coordinator of the Climate Change Sub-Program.

Solar energy could be a “new king” as global electricity demand grows

In order to meet the climate targets set out in the Paris Agreement, the report’s authors say decision-makers need to reverse this trend. They say the world is at a turning point, and as countries recover and rebuild, governments have a choice to further squeeze societies and economies into a high-carbon system or to “better rebuild” toward a healthier and more resilient future.

The authors propose a number of policy options to curb production, such as ending state support for fossil fuels, limiting production, and ensuring that incentives go to green investment.

The report also suggests how the world can make a fair transition from fossil fuels and minimize social disruption. This includes supporting workers and communities affected by decarbonisation, as well as providing safety, training, education and social protection at work.

“This year’s devastating forest fires, floods, droughts and other unfolding extreme weather events serve as a powerful reminder of why we need to successfully tackle the climate crisis,” UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said in a statement.

“As we seek to relaunch farms in the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic, investing in low-carbon energy and infrastructure will benefit jobs, farms, health and clean air.”