New Delhi: The United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) latest Production Gap Report has revealed that 15 of the top fossil fuel producing countries, including India, are not prepared to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement, which seeks to keep global warming “well below 2 degrees” above pre-industrial levels.
“According to our assessment of recent national energy plans and projections, governments are in aggregate planning to produce 110 per cent more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and 45 per cent more than would be consistent with limiting warming to 2°C, on a global level,” says the report, which was officially released Thursday. “By 2040, this excess grows to 190% and 89%, respectively,” it adds.
The report compares each country’s plans and projections for producing oil, coal, and gas with its climate change targets. The 15 countries analysed as part of the report were responsible for 75 per cent of the world’s fossil fuel production in 2020. They are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US).
As part of the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in 2015, countries pledged to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses to keep global warming from breaching the 2 degree mark. This year, countries are expected to increase their climate ambitions, with some having declared net-zero emissions targets by 2050.
The UNEP report says that countries “have not explicitly recognized or planned for the rapid reduction in fossil fuel production that these targets will require.”
In order for the world to meet the Paris Agreement goals, “global coal, oil, and gas production (and consumption) have to start declining immediately to be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.”
India’s plans vs goals
India is the seventh-largest producer of fossil fuels among the 15 countries.
As part of the Paris Agreement, India pledged a 33%–35% reduction in the “emissions intensity” of its economy by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
However, as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign, the government pledged to become a self-reliant producer of coal and made a plan to invest Rs 500 billion worth of infrastructure for coal extraction.
“The plan outlines measures to expand coal production by nearly 60% from 2019 to 2024 (from 730 to 1,149 tonnes), including through the removal of barriers to land acquisition and building capacity for exploration,” says the report, which adds, “India also aims to increase total oil and gas production by over 40% in the same period through measures such as accelerate exploration licensing, faster mon- etization of discoveries, and gas marketing reforms.”
Some other measures India has taken to expand production is to make expenditures and provide tax breaks worth Rs 11.8 billion for the production of fossil fuels. It also estimates that in 2020, India’s “subsidies for coal production totalled INR 17.5 billion (USD 249 million) and those for oil and gas production totalled INR 29.3 billion (USD 417 million).”
The report further notes that India doesn’t have a federal level policy on scaling down production of fossil fuels, or ensuring a just transition into renewable energy.