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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Many governments could miss the 1.5°C climate target for 2030


Aerial view of a line of offshore drilling platforms Photo: Adobe Stock
Countries across the globe are continuing to provide significant policy and financial support for fossil fuel production, promoting it as a ‘transition’ fuel but ‘with no apparent plans to transition away from it later’, a new report notes

Photo: Adobe Stock

Governments around the world plan to produce around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, and 69% more than would be consistent with 2°C, a new report has found.

This comes despite 151 national governments having pledged to achieve net zero emissions and the latest forecasts which suggest global coal, oil and gas demand will peak this decade, even without new policies. When combined, government plans would lead to an increase in global coal production until 2030, and in global oil and gas production until at least 2050, creating an ever-widening fossil fuel production gap over time.


The 2023 Production Gap Report is produced by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) in partnership with Climate Analytics, E3G, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). It assesses governments’ planned and projected production of coal, oil and gas against global levels consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature goal.


The report’s main findings include:  

  • Given risks and uncertainties of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and CO2 removal, countries should aim for a near total phase-out of coal production and use by 2040, and a combined reduction in oil and gas production and use by three-quarters by 2050 from 2020 levels, at a minimum. 
  • While 17 of the 20 countries featured have pledged to achieve net zero emissions – and many have launched initiatives to cut emissions from fossil fuel production activities – none have committed to reduce coal, oil and gas production in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C. 
  • Governments with greater capacity to transition away from fossil fuels should aim for more ambitious reductions and help support the transition processes in countries with limited resources.


'Governments are literally doubling down on fossil fuel production; that spells double trouble for people and planet,’ says UN Secretary-General António Guterres. ‘We cannot address climate catastrophe without tackling its root cause: fossil fuel dependence. COP28 must send a clear signal that the fossil fuel age is out of gas – that its end is inevitable. We need credible commitments to ramp up renewables, phase out fossil fuels, and boost energy efficiency, while ensuring a just, equitable transition.’


July 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded, and most likely the hottest for the past 120,000 years, according to scientists. Across the globe, deadly heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms and floods are costing lives and livelihoods, making clear that human-induced climate change is here. Global CO2 emissions – almost 90% of which come from fossil fuels – rose to record highs in 2021–2022.


‘Governments’ plans to expand fossil fuel production are undermining the energy transition needed to achieve net zero emissions, throwing humanity’s future into question. Powering economies with clean and efficient energy is the only way to end energy poverty and bring down emissions at the same time,’ says Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP.


‘Starting at COP28, nations must unite behind a managed and equitable phase-out of coal, oil and gas – to ease the turbulence ahead and benefit every person on this planet,’ she adds.


The report provides newly expanded country profiles for 20 major fossil fuel-producing countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the UAE, the UK and the US. These profiles show that most of these governments continue to provide significant policy and financial support for fossil fuel production.


‘We find that many governments are promoting fossil gas as an essential “transition” fuel but with no apparent plans to transition away from it later,’ comments Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead author on the report and SEI scientist. ‘But science says we must start reducing global coal, oil, and gas production and use now – along with scaling up clean energy, reducing methane emissions from all sources, and other climate actions – to keep the 1.5°C goal alive.’


Despite being a root cause of the climate crisis, fossil fuels have remained largely absent from international climate negotiations until recent years. At COP26 in late 2021, governments committed to accelerate efforts towards ‘the phase-down of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’, although they did not agree to address the production of all fossil fuels.


‘COP28 could be the pivotal moment where governments finally commit to the phase-out of all fossil fuels and acknowledge the role producers have to play in facilitating a managed and equitable transition. Governments with the greatest capacities to transition away from fossil fuel production bear the greatest responsibility to do so while providing finance and support to help other countries do the same,’ concludes Michael Lazarus, lead author on the report and SEI US Centre Director.