The rise of fossil fuels exposes the planet to extreme global warming

A cow grazes in front of a coal power plant in Bergheim, Germany.

The planet is on fire. The advance of the climate crisis shows that the 'flare' ignited by our species already reaches all the populated corners of the planet and that it is responsible for an unprecedented ecological emergency. For decades we have known the problem, those responsible and the steps we should take to extinguish the flames. But far from focusing on extinction efforts, everything indicates that we keep pouring gasoline on the fire. According to the latest analysis of the environmental program of United Nations (UN), the great powers of the globe plan increase your consumption of fossil fuels over the next decade. If this continues, the report warns, the rise of these highly polluting industries will further remove the hope of avoiding a global warming extreme.

Global production of fossil fuels. EPC

The analysis, published this Wednesday, comes to light only ten days from the start of the Glasgow Summit (COP26); a meeting where the main political leaders of the planet will meet to (re) design their commitments to slow the progress of the climate crisis. On the eve of this event, the UN report puts all the cards on the table and calls for more ambitious policies to reduce “immediately” the consumption of fossil fuels and drastically restrict the use of oil, gas and coal before the decade is up. Much earlier than previously anticipated.

The report shows in a very graphic way the huge "gap" between the production of coal, oil and gas foreseen by governments, the promises they made during the Paris Agreement and the levels of production necessary to prevent the planet from being exposed to an extreme increase in temperatures. "The fossil fuel production planned for 2030 is twice as much as it would take to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees ", concludes the study.

Too much coal, oil and gas

To respond to the growing energy demand of humanity, the great powers of the globe plan to increase their fossil fuel consumption until at least 2040. Likewise, most of the main oil, gas and coal producers plan to increase (to a greater or lesser extent) their production over the next few decades. Everything indicates that these three industries will continue booming until at least the middle of the century. Above all, it is worrying that gas production will skyrocket in the next 20 years. Although, on paper, all the signatories of the Paris Agreement promised that this would not happen.

According to the UN report, the world is preparing to produce a 110% more fossil fuels than it would take to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees and 45% more than it would take to limit the rise in temperatures to 2 degrees. If we continue producing and consuming as before, in 2030 we will have 240% more coal, 57% more oil and 71% more gas than is necessary to curb extreme global warming (and the devastating consequences that the climate crisis will bring).

"The conclusions of this research are clear: global coal, oil and gas production must begin to decline immediately and sharply"says Ploy Achakulwisut, lead author of this report and scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute. With a view to COP26, in fact, the study calls for governments around the world to commit to "close the gap" in the production of fossil fuels and, in turn, accelerate the ecological transition to sustainable energy.

Polluting financing

One of the key points in this process will be 'turn off the tap' on polluting industries. According to several studies, and reaffirms the analysis of the UN, the countries of the G20 they have invested almost $ 300,000 from recovery funds covid in activities related to fossil fuels (the equivalent of 258,000 euros). This investment, the authors of the report argue, far exceeds the money allocated to finance renewable energy. "It was a waste of opportunity"The report concludes." International public financial institutions continue to support the extraction, distribution and processing of fossil fuels, "highlights the United Nations diagnosis.

"International public financial institutions continue to support the extraction, distribution and processing of fossil fuels"

Beyond the scolding for covid funds, the report stands out positively global funding for fossil fuels has declined in recent years. In addition, going forward, he estimates that one third of the major G20 multilateral development banks (MDBs) and development finance institutions (DFIs) have already adopted policies "that exclude fossil fuel production activities from future funding"." The first efforts to cut support for fossil fuel production are encouraging, but these changes must be followed by concrete and ambitious policies, "he says. Lucile dufour, Senior Policy Adviser at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

The publication of this report represents the umpteenth cry that the scientific community is launching to warn about the impact of the climate crisis and the need to stop its progress. "The devastating effects of climate change are visible to all. We still have time to limit the increase in temperatures, but this window of opportunity is closing fast", highlights the executive director of the UN environment program, Inger Andersen, in relation to the presentation of this new report." The governments of the world must take a step forward and take quick and immediate action to close the fossil fuel production gap and ensure a just and equitable transition, "ditch.


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