Coal, oil and gas production to blow climate targets despite pandemic dip, report warns

Latest News 2020-12-09

While some governments have promised a green recovery to the coronavirus pandemic, fossil fuel producing nations are planning to increase output of coal, oil and gas to levels inconsistent with commitments to limit global heating.

That is the warning of the Production Gap report, a major UN-backed analysis published on Wednesday, which calls on countries to coordinate an equitable and managed wind-down of fossil fuel production.

The coronavirus pandemic and restrictions to halt its spread have led to significant short-term drops in coal, oil and gas production this year, with global fossil fuel output falling by an estimated 7% from 2019 to 2020.

But while the pandemic cast uncertainty over long-term government planning, countries’ pre-Covid-19 plans and their stimulus packages point to a wide gap between projected fossil fuel production and action needed to meet global climate goals.

To be consistent with a 1.5C pathway – the tougher goal of the Paris climate agreement – global fossil fuel production would have to decline 6% per year between 2020 and 2030, and 2% annually to align with 2C, according to the report.

That means global coal production would need to fall by 11% annually, oil by 4% and gas by 3% in the next decade to keep to the 1.5C temperature target. Instead, countries’ projected fossil fuel production points to an average annual increase of 2% in the next nine years.