- Five years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the world is still far from meeting its climate goals.
- The report measures the gap between Paris Agreement goals and countries’ planned production of coal, oil and gas.
- COVID-19 recovery funds have been disproportionately allocated to fossil fuel development.
We’ve got to do a better job stopping global warming, a new report says.
The report, released Wednesday by the United Nations and several other research groups, says the world isn’t doing nearly enough to rein in fossil fuel production to the level that’s needed to halt “catastrophic” levels of global warming.
In fact, countries around the world are poised to pump out over 120% more fossil fuels than needed to meet the Paris Climate Agreement. The report said that to meet the Paris goals, countries would need to wind down fossil fuel production by 6% annually over the coming decade.
“Five years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the world is still far from meeting its climate goals,” Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said in the report.
“This year’s devastating forest fires, floods and droughts and other unfolding extreme weather events serve as powerful reminders for why we must succeed in tackling the climate crisis,” she said.
Although President Donald Trump formally withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement in November, President-elect Joe Biden said he will return the U.S. back to the pact on the first day of his presidency.
The report, first launched in 2019, measures the gap between Paris Agreement goals and countries’ planned production of coal, oil and gas. The burning of these fossil fuels produce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Instead of reducing production, countries are planning and projecting an average annual increase of 2%, which by 2030 would result in more than double the production needed to reach the 1.5 degree Celsius limit set by the Paris Agreement.
“The research is abundantly clear that we face severe climate disruption if countries continue to produce fossil fuels at current levels, let alone at their planned increases,” said Michael Lazarus, a lead author on the report and the director of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s U.S. Center. “The research is similarly clear on the solution: government policies that decrease both the demand and supply for fossil fuels and support communities currently dependent on them.”
Pandemic side-effect:Due to COVID-19, 2020 greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. are predicted to drop to lowest level in three decades
‘Past a point of no return’:Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero still won’t stop global warming, study says
Experts agree that the longer countries burn fossil fuels, the more warming will be “locked in” as emissions stay in the atmosphere for years or even decades.
Here in the U.S., while we will continue to undergo a major shift away from coal – with production estimates dropping by 103 million tons a year compared with 2019 estimates – this is offset by large increases in projected oil and gas production.
As for the coronavirus pandemic, the report said that COVID-19 recovery funds have been disproportionately allocated to fossil fuel development, rather than into burgeoning the clean energy industry. As of mid-November, the G20 governments had committed over $233 billion to fossil fuel production and related activities as opposed to about $150 billion for clean fuels.
Like many sectors, oil and gas have been affected considerably by COVID-19, with initial estimates dropping fossil fuel production by up to 7% on the year, according to the report. But the production drop is likely to be temporary unless countries and industry players change their ways.
“This report is a vivid reminder that we are far off track for averting the worst impacts of climate change,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. “We can and must use less fossil fuels, not more.”