With barely two weeks to go before the next round of climate talks, COP26, begins, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has brought out a report which shows that far from cutting down carbon dioxide emitting fossil fuels, most major countries are using more of them, putting the planet into the frying pan.
The just-released ‘Production Gap Report, 2021’, the second after the one brought out in 2019, speaks of the gap between the projected production of fossil fuels and what the production ought to be, if countries should limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C by 2100, compared with 1850-1900.
The fundamental message of the report is that the gap is wide, rather alarmingly. India’s contribution to the gap is substantial.
“As countries set net-zero emission targets and increase their climate ambitions under the Paris Agreement, they have not explicitly recognised or planned for a rapid reduction in fossil fuel production that these targets will require. Rather, the world’s governments plan to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C,” the report says.
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Observing that the production gap has remained largely unchanged since its first analysis in 2019, it says, “two years on, with the climate crisis clearer and more urgent than ever, governments continue to bet on extracting far more coal, oil and gas than is consistent with agreed climate limits.”
If the global warming limiting target is taken as 2 degrees, instead of 1.5, then the projected fossil fuels production is 45 per cent more than what it ought to be, to meet the target, the report says.
Notably, the production gap is the widest for coal, in 2030. Governments’ plans and projections would lead to around 240 per cent more coal, 57 per cent more oil and 71 per cent more gas than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C, the report says.
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India’s terrible plans
The UNEP PGR 2021 also focuses on plans of a few countries that lead the rest in fossil fuels production and India figures in the list.
The report quotes a 2020 Government of India press release, to shine a light on India’s plans to raise coal production. The release says that the government seeks to “unleash the power of coal” and become self-reliant by 2023-24; the government also wants to bring about “a paradigm shift in approach from being oriented to maximum revenue from coal to maximum coal available in the market at the earliest.”
India plans to augment coal production from 730 million tonnes in 2019 to 1,149 million tonnes in 2024.