Canada fossil fuel producer subsidies knocked by UN

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Canada’s priority to continue pushing fossil fuel production is far out of line with its pledge to try and constrain global warming to 1.5 C or even 2 C — the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/12/2020 (727 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Canada’s priority to continue pushing fossil fuel production is far out of line with its pledge to try and constrain global warming to 1.5 C or even 2 C — the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

A report from the United Nations Environment Programme has found forecast oil and gas production in countries around the world in 2030 is roughly double the amount of fossil fuels that can be burned.

The second edition of the annual report, titled the Production Gap, says in order to limit warming to 1.5 C, approximately six per cent decreases in production of fossil fuels would be needed every year between 2020 and 2030. To limit warming to 2 C, declines of two per cent per year would be needed.

However, government plans considered together show an average annual increase of two per cent is expected for coal, natural gas and oil.

“Climate policies have yet to rise to the challenge. Emissions are 62 per cent higher now than when international climate negotiators began in 1990,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday. “Every 10th of a degree of warming matters.

“Today, we are at 1.2 C of warming, and already witnessing unprecedented climate extremes and volatility in every region, on every continent.”

Canada was panned in the first annual UN report as one of seven countries — including Russia, Indonesia and the United States — looking to increase fossil fuel production largely relying on export markets to buy up the country’s No. 1 export product.

Since the 2019 report, Canada has further increased its projections for fossil fuel production to 2030.

The 2020 report is further complicated by the slowdown of economic activity around the world due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The report does account for a sharp single-year decline in emissions and production of fossil fuels. However, government stimulus and recovery measures will determine the world’s trajectory for the next decade. It could cement a return to pre-COVID production trajectories or they could set the stage for a managed wind-down of fossil fuels as part of a “build back better” effort, the report reads.

“COVID-19 lockdowns have temporarily reduced emissions and pollution, but carbon dioxide levels are still at record highs and rising,” Guterres said.

The UN report found Canada’s pandemic response funding has continued to support fossil fuel industry and will further cement a reality for the country that isn’t in line with its pledges to limit climate change. The report identified Canada as one of the “leading providers of fossil fuel producer subsidies.”

“The 2019 report estimated the size of the global production gap in 2030 to be 21 and 13 (gigatonnes of) CO2 in excess of the 1.5 C- and 2 C-consistent pathways, respectively,” the report reads.

“The net effect of the changes in the plans and projections from countries with available updates for 2030 — Canada, Indonesia, Russia, and the U.S. — leads to a very slight widening of the global production gap in 2030.”

sarah.lawrynuik@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @SarahLawrynuik

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