South Asia must sidestep lack of climate progress revealed in latest Production Gap Report

New report reaffirms significant excess of fossil fuel production is in direct violation of Paris goals. 

20 OCTOBER 2021 – A phase out of fossil fuels and accelerated uptake of renewable energy is critical to meet Paris goals and ensure both clean energy and energy security across South Asia.

#FossilFuels account for a gross majority of energy consumption in South Asia, over 70% in some countries. However, the latest iteration of the Production Gap Report – released today by the Stockholm Environment Institute, International Institute for Sustainable Development, ODI, E3G, and United Nations Environment Programme – sends a strong signal ahead of #COP26 to industry, investors and governments that tackling fossil fuel production head on is a prerequisite for limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Coal, oil and gas are also the biggest contributor to the poor air quality in the region. Air pollution exposure is the second most important risk factor for ill-health in South Asia, prompting health institutions representing more than 100,000 medical practitioners from the region to call for a phase out of fossil fuels.

Sanjay Vashist, Director of Climate Action Network South Asia, said: “The Production Gap Report shows the unacceptable discrepancy between countries’ planned fossil fuel production and the global production levels necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C and 2°C.  It is indeed shocking that countries have invested over USD 300 billion in new funds towards fossil fuel activities since the beginning of the #COVID19 pandemic — more than they have towards clean energy. This is unacceptable; our dependence on fossil fuels has cost us dearly and its impacts can be seen across India as record rainfall and massive floods that can be clearly attributed to climate change playing havoc with the lives who are least responsible for the climate crisis.” 

Further delay to curbing the production of coal, oil and gas will have devastating climate and humanitarian consequences. Wealthy producing countries need to lead the way by sharing the benefits and burdens of transition with poorer nations, workers, and fossil-fuel dependent communities, many of whom will be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change should we overshoot our 1.5°C temperature goal.

Despite self-proclaimed climate leaders ratcheting up ambition on their Paris climate pledges, the lack of action to tackle fossil fuel production means we are still off track to meet Paris goals. As the report finds, the world’s governments are still expected to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Alok Sharma, the COP president, aims to make COP26 the moment the world “consigns coal to history” and is pushing countries to make commitments to end coal generation. Such an aim fails to account for the 57% more oil and 71% more gas that governments’ production plans and projects would generate by 2030 than is consistent with 1.5°C.

The Fossil Fuel Treaty would create the missing framework for constraining the supply side of all fossil fuels, first stopping expansion and then carefully reducing production all while prioritizing a #JustTransition. Its necessity is made more evident by the lack of progress since the Production Gap Report’s inception. 

Tzeporah Berman, Chair for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative and International Program Director, said: “For decades countries have been negotiating targets and constraining emissions but behind our backs the fossil fuel industry has been growing production.  This report makes clear no new oil, gas and coal projects fit and governments must act now to wind down fossil fuel production. A Fossil Fuel Treaty would help governments do that in a way that is just and equitable.”

About the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative

The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative is spurring international cooperation to end new development of fossil fuels, phase out existing production within the agreed climate limit of 1.5°C, and develop plans to support workers, communities and countries dependent on fossil fuels to create secure and healthy livelihoods. 

The proposed Treaty draws on lessons from global efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and ban ozone depleting chemicals, landmines and other threats to humanity. It will advance action under three pillars:

  • Non-Proliferation: Don’t Add to the Problem
    An immediate end to the expansion into new reserves of coal, oil and natural gas would limit the globe’s production of carbon emissions (which if left alone would create more than twice over the limit set by the United Nations and other organizations).

  • Fair Phase-Out: Get Rid of the Existing Threat
    Since already operating oil and gas fields and coal mines contain more carbon than can be burnt under a 1.5°C target, phasing out those current stockpiles is a much needed step to keep the world under the Paris Agreement’s temperature limits.

  • Just Transition: Accelerate an Equitable Transition
    Every worker, community, and country must be taken into the deepest consideration on the way to fast-tracking all solutions. Only a proactive plan to enable economic diversification, implement #RenewableEnergy and other reliable, cost-effective low-carbon solutions will be able to meet the needs of a sustainable future.

#COP26  #COVID19  #FossilFuels  #JustTransition  #RenewableEnergy