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November 25, 2019

Mind the gap

Opinion

November 25, 2019

The planet is in an almighty mess, we see and feel its pain daily as we watch people being flooded from their houses, hurricanes and tornadoes lashing coastal areas, wildfires consuming everything in their path.

Then we see hope in the form of hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, across the groaning globe take to the streets, demanding and ready for change. We see leaders clamouring over each other, in response, commending the brave young people who are standing up for all of us and we watch them pledge to do more to tackle climate breakdown.

And then the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) releases the production gap report.

Although the governments' pledge to decrease country emissions, they are signalling the opposite when it comes to fossil fuel production with plans and projections for expansion.

The report released by the SEI shows that we are currently on course to produce far more coal, oil and gas than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C, creating a "production gap" that makes climate goals much harder to reach. Although the governments' pledge to decrease country emissions, they are signalling the opposite when it comes to fossil fuel production with plans and projections for expansion.

'Production gap' is a term used to refer to the difference between a countries' planned levels of fossil fuel production, and what is needed to achieve international climate goals. This is the first time a UN report has looked directly and specifically at fossil fuel production as a key driver of climate breakdown. It shows that countries are planning to produce fossil fuels far in excess of the levels needed to fulfil their climate pledges under the Paris Agreement, which themselves are far from adequate. This over investment in coal, oil, and gas supply locks in fossil fuel infrastructure that will make emissions reductions harder to achieve.

The disconnect between Paris temperature goals and countries’ plans and policies for coal, oil, and gas production is massive, worrying and unacceptable.

The science is clear, to stay below 1.5 degrees we must stop the expansion of the fossil fuel industry immediately. That means that not a single new mine can be dug, not another pipeline built, not one more emitting powerplant fired up. And we have to get to work transitioning to sustainable renewable energy powered energy systems.

Across the globe resistance to fossil fuels is rising, the climate strikes have shown the world that we are prepared to take action. Going forward our job is to keep up a steady drumbeat of actions, strikes and protests that gets louder and louder throughout 2020.

Excerpted from: 'Mind the Gap: On the Glaring Hole Between Global Fossil Fuel Expansion and Paris Climate Goals'. Commondreams.org