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NAIROBI/STOCKHOLM: With less than two weeks to the start of the crucial COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, a new report says governments plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 required to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and 45 percent more than at 2°C.

The 2021 Production Gap report, authored by the Stockholm Environment Institute, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Overseas Development Institute, E3G and UNEP, provides profiles on Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the UAE, the UK and the US.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, these countries have directed over US$300 billion in fossil-fuel spending that collectively will result in 240 percent more coal production, 57 percent more oil and 71 percent more gas in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

“The devastating impacts of climate change are here for all to see. There is still time to limit long-term warming to 1.5°C, but this window of opportunity is rapidly closing,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP. “At COP26 and beyond, the world’s governments must step up, taking rapid and immediate steps to close the fossil fuel production gap and ensure a just and equitable transition. This is what climate ambition looks like.”

Noting governments have a primary role in closing the production gap, the report says they must wind down fossil fuel production in line with the Paris Agreement’s temperature limits to encourage policy action. In addition they should:

• Wean countries off the use of coal, oil, and gas coupled with strategies to ramp down production to ensure a less disruptive transition.

• Place restrictions on fossil fuel exploration and extraction to avoid locking in levels of fossil fuel supply that are inconsistent with climate goals.

• End production subsidies; exclude fossil fuels from public finance; and direct greater support towards low-carbon development.

• Ensure a more effective and equitable global wind-down of production with greater international support for countries highly dependent on fossil fuel production and limited financial and institutional capacity.

“We are out of time,” commented Mitzi Jonelle Tan, part of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines. “My country is one of the most vulnerable in the world to the climate crisis, and I grew up always afraid of the next storm that could wash away our home.

“Still, governments, even from the rich countries that have driven this crisis, want to extract even more fossil fuels, all in the middle of the COVID pandemic. I am done being afraid of the next storm, so I’m joining the storm of people demanding for a just and complete phase-out from fossil fuels.”
 
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