According to a report by the United Nations, countries heavily reliant on oil and gas, known as petrostates, are planning a significant increase in the production of fossil fuels, despite concerns about their contribution to climate change. This has been described as “insanity” by the UN report.
According to a recent UN report, the fossil fuel industry is considering expansions that would exceed the planet’s carbon limit by a factor of two. This has been deemed “insane” by experts and raises concerns about the future of humanity.
According to the report, the energy strategies of the petrostates were in conflict with their climate objectives and promises. These plans would result in a 460% increase in coal production, 83% increase in gas production, and 29% increase in oil production by 2030, surpassing the allowable amount for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C. Additionally, these plans would generate 69% more fossil fuels than the recommended amount for the more dangerous 2C target.
India, Saudi Arabia, and Russia are the top contributors to carbon emissions through their planned production of fossil fuels, specifically coal and oil. The United States, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates are also significant players in the oil industry. The UAE will be hosting the important UN climate summit Cop28 on November 30th.
The report clearly outlines the underlying conflict fueling the climate emergency: the need to drastically reduce fossil fuel consumption to zero, while petrostates and corporations continue to profit billions of dollars annually by increasing production.
Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme, stated that numerous nations are still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, which is concerning. She believes that these actions raise doubts about the future of humanity and urges governments to align their words with their actions.
Neil Grant, a researcher at Climate Analytics and a contributor to the report, stated: “Despite their commitments to addressing climate change, governments continue to invest in polluting and declining industries, instead of capitalizing on the potential of a thriving clean energy sector. This not only defies economic logic, but also exacerbates the climate crisis that we ourselves have created.”
2 emissions from energy use in 2019
The study examines 20 countries that produce fossil fuels, together accounting for 84% of the carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption in 2019.2
In 2021, there were a total of 17 commitments to reach net zero emissions, according to Michael Lazarus from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), who was one of the report’s main contributors.
Lazarus stated that the issue lies in each country’s aspiration to optimize their own manufacturing. He emphasized the importance of a globally coordinated and fair elimination of fossil fuels.
Extensive research has determined that the development of any additional oil and gas reserves is not feasible in order to meet the goal of limiting global heating to 1.5C, as agreed upon in the Paris climate agreement. This was confirmed by a 2021 study conducted by the International Energy Agency. In 2022, The Guardian reported that major fossil fuel companies were preparing numerous oil and gas projects that could have a significant impact on carbon emissions.
The recent analysis looked into the growth strategies of major fossil fuel companies using data that is publicly accessible. It determined that the difference between their planned production and the amount needed to limit global heating to 1.5C remains significant, similar to the findings from the initial analysis in 2019. It is projected that by 2030, there will be a gap of 20 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions.2
Approximately 50% of the current yearly worldwide carbon emissions.
Following Saudi Arabia, the United States, Brazil, and Canada, the next countries with the largest plans for expanding their oil production are the United Arab Emirates (host of Cop28), Qatar (with the largest plans for gas expansion), and Nigeria (after Russia). India has incredibly extensive plans for expanding coal production, three times greater than second-place Russia, with Indonesia in third and Australia in fifth.
In total, there are only four nations that have strategies in place to decrease overall fossil fuel emissions: the United Kingdom, China, Norway, and Germany.
2 from the atmosphere and store it underground is risky
According to the report, it is risky to depend on uncertain future technology to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground.2
It was a dangerous decision to return it to the underground: “Nations should strive for a nearly complete elimination of coal production and consumption by 2040, and a combined reduction of at least 75% in oil and gas production and use by 2050.”
If action is taken to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, the planned expansions could result in significant financial losses for fossil fuel companies.2
Ploy Achakulwisut, a co-author of the report from SEI, emphasized the urgent need to decrease emissions and address the climate emergency. She also noted that numerous investments are in danger of losing value as the world transitions to a decarbonized future.
According to Romain Ioualalen, a member of the research group Oil Change International, only five wealthy countries in the global north hold responsibility for over half (51%) of the proposed new extraction of oil and gas until 2050. These countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, Norway, and the UK, have a moral and historical obligation to take the lead in transitioning away from fossil fuel production.
Fossil fuels are the root cause of the climate crisis, but the first time they were mentioned in the final text from a UN summit was in 2021. That was the 26th annual UN climate meeting, where a “phase down” of coal alone was called for.
“According to Andersen, beginning at Cop28, countries should come together to support a planned and fair elimination of coal, oil, and gas in order to alleviate potential challenges and positively impact all individuals on Earth. Utilizing renewable energy is the sole solution to eradicate energy poverty and reduce emissions simultaneously.”
The secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, expressed concern about governments’ increased reliance on fossil fuels, stating that this will have negative impacts on both people and the environment. He also noted that the continued use of fossil fuels is hindering progress towards important climate objectives.