According to research released today (4 December), only 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions are covered by concrete fossil fuel phase-out plans, despite a growing number of entities setting net zero targets.
The research, led by the Net-Zero Tracker, analysed the commitments to eliminate coal, oil, or gas exploration, production, using information listed within its database of net zero pledges from 1,525 entities, encompassing companies, cities, regions, and countries.
Researchers found that of the countries with net zero targets, just 13% have at least one phase-out commitment relating to either exploration, production, or use of coal, oil and/or gas in scope. Altogether, these 19 countries emit 7% of the global emissions that are covered by a net zero target.
Despite being one of the most polluting fossil fuels, only 3% of coal-producing countries with net zero targets have committed to phasing out coal exploration. However, a slightly higher proportion (13%) have committed to phasing out production, representing 5% of global coal production.
Oil production fared even worse. Similar to coal, only 3% of oil-producing countries with net zero targets have committed to phasing out oil exploration. However, unlike coal, just 3% have committed to phasing out production, representing a mere 0.8% of global oil production.
Regionally, Africa has the highest percentage of company fossil fuel phase-out targets (50%), followed by Europe (27%). North America lags behind, with only 9% of companies having a phase-out commitment.
The report highlights Spain, Stockholm, and Ørsted as examples of good practice in the phase-out of fossil fuel use.
The timing of the report coincides with ongoing discussions at the UN climate conference (COP28) in Dubai, where nations are debating whether to phase out or phase down fossil fuels.
While the exact language surrounding fossil fuel reduction commitments won’t be finalised until the second week of COP28, it is expected that nations, including major emitters like China and the US, are poised to embrace a global plan to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030.
A media storm erupted over the weekend following remarks made by the summit’s president, Sultan Al Jaber, that there was “no science” supporting the need to phase out fossil fuels, sparking outrage among environmentalists and scientists.
Al Jaber has since said his comments were ‘misinterpreted’ and insisted that he respects the science, adding that, “the phase-down and the phase-out of fossil fuels … is essential. It needs to be orderly, fair, just and responsible.”
The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that demand for all fossil fuels will peak by 2030. However, a recent report released by the United Nations and several nongovernmental organisations found that national governments still plan to collectively produce twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.
In good company
While the Net-Zero Tracker paints a somewhat discouraging picture for many countries, it also highlights some encouraging trends elsewhere.
Corporate coal phase-outs are gaining momentum, with 56% of publicly listed companies involved in or facilitating coal production having committed to a full or partial phase-out.
But progress stands in stark contrast to the sluggish pace of oil and gas phase-outs, with only 3% of oil-producing companies and 3% of gas-producing companies having pledged a full production phase-out.
You can find the full report here.
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