How the Transition Away From Fossil Fuel Production Can Be Included in New Climate Commitments and Plans

By Natalie Jones and Paola Yanguas Parra
15 / 06 / 2024
Demonstrators in London demand action on the climate crisis. Photo credit: Koca Vehbi via Shutterstock

The first global stocktake (GST) under the Paris Agreement concluded at the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) in Dubai with a call on parties to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating

action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.” With the GST decision, the starting gun has been fired on the third generation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), expected by early 2025, well ahead of COP 30 in Belém, Brazil. Our analysis shows that current-generation NDCs and long-term low-emissions development strategies (LT-LEDS) that mention fossil fuels often, implicitly or explicitly, refer to a continuation or increase in fossil fuel production. NDCs and LT-LEDS are central to informing government plans and actions toward decarbonization and economic diversification, and they send signals to the markets regarding the future use and production of fossil fuels. Therefore, it is essential that new NDCs and LT-LEDS tackle not only the use of fossil fuels but also fossil fuel production in a way that is aligned with the GST outcome.

Meeting the Paris Agreement goals while avoiding an unnecessarily abrupt and disruptive transition away from fossil fuels requires that governments plan for a managed phase-out of fossil fuel production. In the next year until mid-2025, countries have a timely opportunity to reflect this in their NDCs and LT-LEDS. Updates in this area are particularly relevant

for fossil-fuel-producing countries, of which the vast majority have included only limited information about fossil fuel production or have signalled a continuation or even an increase in fossil fuel production in their NDCs and LT-LEDS.Those plans for increased production stand in stark contrast with 1.5°C-compatible scenarios, under which no new fossil fuel projects are required and, if fully executed, could lead to exceeding even 2°C and higher warming scenarios.

We find that one-third of the largest fossil-fuel-producing countries do not mention transition of the fossil fuel sector in their NDCs, and more than half have not submitted an LT-LEDS (or do not mention fossil fuels in their LT-LEDS).While reporting on fossil fuel production in the climate documents submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is not mandatory, this is a stark omission, particularly for those countries that are still planning expansions of their fossil fuel production, according to other official government documents.

When mentioned in the climate documents of producers, common topics around fossil fuel production include a) the high economic dependence on fossil fuels, b) policies, measures, and initiatives for the mitigation of production-related emissions or economic diversification and just transition, c) energy supply security as a justification for the continuation of the fossil fuel extraction sector, and d) social and economic impacts and risks of the global transition in their national economies. All these topics are important for the individual countries but fail to address the urgent need for a transition away from fossil fuel production.

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