- Released ahead of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, the report predicts a worrisome future, despite 151 national governments having pledged to achieve net-zero submissions.
- It recommends adopting reduction targets in fossil fuel production and ensuring an equitable transition to clean energy.
- Kenya is striving to ensure everyone has access to clean cooking by 2028, promoting fuels like liquified petroleum gas and bio-ethanol and electricity as alternative fuels.
The 2023 Production Gap Report by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) raises an alarm on a projected surge in fossil fuel production, including coal, oil, and gas, over the next decade.
This surge, expected to be a staggering 110% increase by 2030, poses a significant threat to global efforts to combat climate emergencies.
This report launched recently reveals that governments worldwide are planning to produce more fossil fuels, hindering the crucial goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
The report was produced by UNEP, experts from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Think Tank E3G and the Policy Institute of Climate Analytics.
The production gap quantifies the difference between governments’ projected extraction of coal, oil and gas (fossil fuels) and the global production levels required to meet climate goals, particularly those outlined in the Paris Agreement, warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius.
The emission gap, on the other hand, refers to the difference between global greenhouse gas emissions under the Nationally Determined Contributions and the accepted level in 2030.
Report findings show that major countries such as Australia, China, India and the UAE are projected to increase global coal production by 2030 and oil and gas production until 2050.
The Production Gap Report 2023 also recommends adopting reduction targets in fossil fuel production and ensuring an equitable transition considering countries and target a near-total phase-out of coal production and use by 2050, coupled with a 75% reduction in oil and gas production and use by 2050 compared to 2020.
Phasing down or phasing up?
Released ahead of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, the report predicts a worrisome future, despite 151 national governments having pledged to achieve net-zero submissions.
Inger Anderson, UNEP’s Executive Director, emphasized that expanding fossil fuel production undermines the transition to clean energy, vital for achieving net-zero emissions and addressing energy poverty.
“Powering economies with clean and efficient energy is the only way to end energy poverty and bring down emissions at the same time,” she stated.
However, governments, in aggregate, still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“Governments are literally doubling down on fossil fuel production; that spells double trouble for people and the planet.
We cannot address the climate catastrophe without tackling its root cause -fossil fuel dependence,” said Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, during the launch of the report.
The crisis in Ukraine has further fueled plans for increased investments in oil and gas infrastructure, diverting attention from the urgent need to transition to clean energy.
Ploy Achakulwisut, a research fellow with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and lead author of the report emphasizes the urgent necessity for a rapid shift from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives like solar and wind to secure a sustainable and livable future for humanity.
“Fossil fuel phase out is one of the pivotal issues that will be negotiated at COP28. We need countries to commit to a phase out of fossil fuel to keep the 1.5 degrees goal alive,” said Achakulwisut in a press briefing after the launch.
The report’s insights
In its fourth edition, the Production Gap Report 2023 sheds light on the disparity between government plans for coal, oil and gas production.
Further, it introduces key updates, incorporating changes in government projections since August 2021 and insights and mitigation scenarios database from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report.
The report dives into 20 major fossil fuel producers like the United States of America (USA), China, Canada, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), among others, to assess their climate ambitions, strategies, and policies supporting or hindering the transition.
According to the report, the global production levels for coal, oil and gas could be higher by 460%, 29% and 82% by 2030 respectively, based on the present government’s strategies to boost their consumption.
“Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 requires governments to commit to, plan for and implement global reductions in the production of all fossil fuels alongside other climate mitigation actions, beginning now,” in part, the report reads.
The UN environmental body (UNEP) has been monitoring the fossil fuel production gap since 2019 and has found that the gap remains large and expands over time.
On the receiving end
The rapidly growing African continent of more than 1.3 billion people is losing 5% to 15% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth every year to the widespread impacts of climate change.
Kenya’s President William Ruto, while speaking on the effects of climate change in Africa, termed the loss as a deep frustration in the resource-rich region that contributes by far the least to global warming.
He and other leaders urged reforms to the global financial structures that have left African nations paying about five times more to borrow money than others, worsening the debt crisis for many.
Kenya is striving to ensure everyone has access to clean cooking by 2028, promoting fuels like liquified petroleum gas and bio-ethanol and electricity as alternative fuel.
Efficient wood stoves could cut wood use by 30-60%, saving 624 hectares of forest and 45,000 tons of CO2 yearly however, cost hurdles lead 75% of Kenyan families to stick with charcoal and firewood.
Drawing from his research, Anderson Kehbila, an SEI Africa Research Associate, suggested effective strategies for the country to curtail emissions and go green.
He also recommended actions that the Kenyan government should undertake to tackle the challenges our country is facing in transitioning towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy.
- Work with think tanks, international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and learning institutions to develop bankable project proposals for the Global Environment Facility, The Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund.
- Use the draft National Green Fiscal Incentives Policy Framework to attract private-sector green investment at scale.
- Facilitate partnerships with the World Bank’s Green Bond Programme and the African Green Bank Initiative to scale climate actions and low-carbon energy transitions.
- Set up a comprehensive national incubation program to test and commercialize local green innovations by offering training, business development, technology and finance support.
- Collaborate with development finance institutions, investors, and international development organizations to refinance a portion of the national debt at lower interest rates and longer payment terms, providing savings to channel into low-carbon, climate-resilient development projects.