Newsplaining: Fossil fuel production on track to wreck climate goals till decade end

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Why is it in the news?

According to a latest study, global fossil fuel production, in terms of extracted oil and gas, has nearly quadrupled from newly approved projects by the end of this decade. The International Energy Agency (IEA) had previously stated that to avoid breaching the threshold of 1.5 degree Celsius average global temperatures, agreed upon as a benchmark limit of global warming by many international agreements, new oil and gas infrastructures should be limited. As latest reports suggest, this is not the case. It might have severe consequences in the fight against climate change in the coming decades.

What is it?

While concerns regarding the crisis of climate change have been ongoing, nothing much seems to have been achieved on the ground. Breaching the threshold of 1.5 degree Celsius, agreed upon by global governments in the Paris climate agreement, seems to soon become a reality now. This may then result in real-time effects due to climate change soon manifesting around the world. Many already have, these include heatwaves, floods, drought, ecological damage, extinctions and many other related phenomena.

A major reason for this increasing slide of average global temperatures has been the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, emitted mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. If this central problem is not tackled, much can not be expected in halting damages resulting from climate change.

While many global summits and agreements seem to become routine in today’s time, much seems to not have materialised on ground. Despite commitments, the level of dependence that we have on oil and gas for fulfilling our energy needs is such that we seem to be unable to wear off our dependence on them.

In pursuit of fulfilling our demands we have continued exploration of new oil and gas fields across the world. This leads then to a cycle of use, reuse and abuse which makes halting the use of oil and gas and the resulting emission of carbon dioxide quite impossible.

In 2023 for example, at least 20 oil and gas fields were readied and approved for extraction following discovery. As the new report suggests, by the end of this decade the fossil-fuel industry aims to sanction nearly four times this amount, 31 billion barrels of oil equivalent, across 64 additional new oil and gas fields.

With such statistics, it is hard to diminish our dependency on fossil fuels for fulfilling our energy needs. The US tops this list of countries looking for newer oil and gas reserves. What is also interesting is that many countries which earlier did not have significant oil reserves have in recent times developed them.

This makes erasing our dependence on fossil fuels extremely difficult now. It seems meeting our commitments to halt average global temperatures below 2 degree Celsius to be an impossible task with each passing year and the consequences of this are also slowly unfolding in real time.

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