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Rich Countries must Cease Oil & Gas Production by 2034: Report

The report examines each country's wealth and how dependent its economy is on the production of fossil fuels. It discovered that a rapid transition away from oil and gas would cripple many poorer countries economically and politically, whereas wealthier nations could afford to phase out fossil fuel production while remaining relatively prosperous.

Shivam Dwivedi
Oil & Gas Production
Oil & Gas Production

According to a study, rich countries must phase out all oil and gas production within the next 12 years, while poor countries should be given 28 years to make a fair transition away from fossil fuels. The report, led by Prof Kevin Anderson of Manchester University's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, found that wealthy countries such as the UK, US, and Australia had until 2034 to halt all oil and gas production in order to give the world a 50% chance of preventing catastrophic climate breakdown, while the poorest nations, which are also heavily reliant on fossil fuels, should be given until 2050.

Findings of Report:

Anderson stated that while it was now clear that a rapid transition away from a "fossil fuel economy" was required, it was critical that this be done in a fair and equitable manner. "There are significant differences in countries' ability to end oil and gas production while maintaining vibrant economies and providing a just transition for their citizens," he said.

The report examines each country's wealth and how dependent its economy is on the production of fossil fuels. It discovered that a rapid transition away from oil and gas would cripple many poorer countries economically and politically, whereas wealthier nations could afford to phase out fossil fuel production while remaining relatively prosperous.

For example, it discovered that while oil and gas revenue contributed 8% to US GDP, the country's GDP per head would still be around $60,000 the second highest in the world.

Meanwhile, despite being small producers of oil and gas, countries such as South Sudan, the Republic of the Congo, and Gabon have little other economic revenue and would be devastated by a rapid transformation.

The findings were welcomed by Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who oversaw the 2015 Paris summit. "This new study is a timely reminder that all countries must phase out oil and gas production as quickly as possible, with wealthy countries leading the way, while also ensuring a just transition for workers and communities that rely on it."

The findings of the report coincide with a renewed focus on climate justice among civil society organizations and countries in the global south, particularly at last year's Cop26 conference in Glasgow.

However, Anderson cautioned that many wealthier nations were only paying "lip service" to the idea. "I don't see policymakers in the wealthy parts of the world taking any sense of equity seriously," he said.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development commissioned the study, which quantifies how much future oil and gas production is consistent with the Paris climate target of 1.5 degrees Celsius of heating- and what this means for the 88 countries responsible for 99.97 percent of global oil and gas supply. It discovered that for a 50% chance of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

The 19 "highest-capacity" countries, with non-oil GDP per capita of more than $50,000, must phase out production by 2034, with a 74% reduction by 2030. This group, which includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates, accounts for 35% of global oil and gas production.

The 14 "high-capacity" countries, with non-oil GDP per capita of nearly $28,000, must phase out production by 2039, with a 43 percent reduction by 2030. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Kazakhstan account for 30% of global oil and gas production.

Eleven "medium-capacity" countries with non-oil GDP per capita of $17,000 must halt production by 2043, with a 28% reduction by 2030. China, Brazil, and Mexico account for 11% of global oil and gas production. Nineteen "low-capacity" countries with non-oil GDP per capita of $10,000 must halt production by 2045, with an 18% reduction by 2030. Indonesia, Iran, and Egypt account for 13% of global oil and gas production.

Twenty-five "low-capacity" countries, with an average non-oil GDP per capita of $3,600, must phase out production by 2050, with a 14 percent reduction by 2030. Iraq, Libya, Angola, and South Sudan account for 11% of global oil and gas production. Even with this timeframe, the study found that poorer countries would require financial assistance to make the transition in order to avoid massive economic and political upheaval.

"A rapid, just, and equitable phase-out of oil and gas is still possible, with the timeframes suggested in this report, as long as rich countries provide substantial financial, technical, and political support, and cancel the debt," said Lidy Nacpil, a climate justice campaigner and coordinator of the Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development.

(Source: IISD)

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