A new report titled Phaseout Pathways for Fossil Fuel Production, argues rich nations must phase out fossil fuels by 2034 if the world his to have any chance of keeping global warming to the 1.5 degrees centigrade Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change target.
The Phaseout Pathways Report from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, in the U.K., points to the need to recognize the differentiated capacities for countries to act quickly to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester, notes:
“Responding to the ongoing climate emergency requires a rapid shift away from a fossil fuel economy, but this must be done fairly. There are huge differences in the ability of countries to end oil and gas production, while maintaining vibrant economies and delivering a just transition for their citizens. We have developed a schedule for phasing out oil and gas production that—with sufficient support for developing countries—meets our very challenging climate commitments and does so in a fair way.”Phaseout Pathways Report
The report states that “there is no capacity in the carbon budget for opening up new production facilities of any kind, whether coal mines, oil wells or gas terminals. A transition based on principles of equity requires wealthy, high-emitting nations to phase out all oil and gas production by 2034 while the poorest nations have until 2050 to end production.”
The main argument of the report is that wealthy nations produce a lot of fossil fuels, but these are a small part of their overall economies. So, the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, the United States, doesn’t even show up on the table of the top 33 producers by share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Neither does Canada, the fourth-largest producer.
The environmental magazine Treehugger notes the “unfortunate timing of the report, in the middle of a war” when the Western world’s priorities have suddenly changed from cutting back on oil and gas production to cranking it up as quickly as possible. Treehugger quotes USA energy secretary Jennifer Granholm as recently saying to an energy industry gathering in Texas, USA:
“We are on war footing. That means [crude oil] releases from the strategic reserves all around the world. And that means you producing more right now if and when you can. I hope your investors are saying this to you as well. In this moment of crisis, we need more supply.”Jennifer Granholm
Professor Anderson notes the effect of the war in Europe the war, but emphasizes the resulting high energy prices should only remind us that “oil and gas are volatile global commodities, and economies that depend on them will continue to face repeated shocks and disruption”, and serve to remind us of the need for a sensible but rapid shift to renewables will increase energy security, build resilient economies, and help avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
The Phaseout Pathways Report points out that because the poorer countries are so much more dependent on oil revenues than the richer ones, “an equitable transition will require wealthy high-emitting nations make substantial and ongoing financial transfers to poorer nations to facilitate their low-carbon development, against a backdrop of dangerous and increasing climate impacts.”
The report argues that based on experience, when wealthy nations that are major producers reach peak carbon, they “typically remain wealthy even once the oil and gas revenue is removed,” noting that while oil and gas revenue contribute only 8% of the U.S. GDP, the political and economic impact is a lot more than 8%.
Source: -The above article is based on an extract from Treehugger, March 24, 2022.