By Naomi Kitur

As countries set net-zero emission targets, and increase their climate ambitions under the Paris Agreement, they have not explicitly recognized or planned for the rapid reduction in fossil fuel production that these targets will require, the 2021 Production Gap Report by United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and other researchers reveals.

Rather, the world’s governments’ plan to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 Degrees Celsius.

The report which was first launched in 2019 measures the gap between governments’ planned production of coal, oil, and gas and the global production levels consistent with meeting the Paris Agreement temperature limits.

The 2021 Production gap Report provides country profiles for 15 major producer countries; Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The production gap is widest for coal in 2030: governments’ production plans and projections will lead to around 240% more coal, 57% more oil and 71% more gas contrary with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The findings of the report showed that G20 countries have directed over USD 300 billion in new funds towards fossil fuel activities since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic- more than they have towards clean energy.

‘’Global fossil fuel production must start declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming to 1.5 Degrees Celsius. However the governments continue to plan for and support levels of fossil fuel production that are vastly in excess of what we can safely burn,’’ says Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead author on the report.

According to the report, while existing transparency initiatives have shed some light on fossil fuel production, the available information is incomplete, inconsistent, and scattered. Addressing the production gap requires governments to be far more transparent in their plans and projections for oil, gas & coal production.

‘’The world can and will recover. Government policies and spending priorities will determine whether that recovery leads to a healthy, resilient, and equitable future – one that avoids the severe climate disruption associated with unsustainable levels of fossil fuel production. Governments have a key role to play here,’’ says Mans Nilsson Executive Director of Stockholm Environment Institute.

‘’A global transition away from fossil fuels is paramount to avoiding dangerous climate change, saving millions of lives from air pollution, ending harm to local communities in extraction frontiers, and protecting our biodiversity and ecosystems,’’ says Inger Andersen Executive Director of UNEP.

Among the report’s producers include, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD) and others.More than 40 researchers contributed to the analysis and review, spanning numerous universities, think tanks and other research organizations.