None of the world’s major oil and gas-producing countries have plans to eventually stop drilling for those fuels, despite many having pledged to reach net zero emissions, according to data shared with Reuters on Tuesday.
The Net Zero Tracker, an independent data consortium including Oxford University, said its findings laid bare the gap between the targets countries have set to avoid disastrous levels of climate change and their real-world plans to continue producing CO2-emitting energy.
“This proliferation of ‘net zero’ ambition without the commitment towards fossil fuel phase-out highlights the need for entities to determine how these targets will be achieved,” said research co-author Natasha Lutz from the University of Oxford.
Governments at the U.N.’s COP28 climate summit in Dubai are debating whether to agree for the first time to phase out CO2-emitting fossil fuels, the main cause of climate change.
The data shared with Reuters showed 69 of the world’s oil-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia, China, and COP28 host the United Arab Emirates, have pledged to reach net zero emissions.
But only three minor producers—Denmark, Spain, and France—have set out plans to eventually stop drilling, the researchers said. Denmark and Spain are also alone among gas producers in planning a production phase-out.
Countries with a net zero emissions target but no plans to rein in production include the UAE, which has faced heavy criticism from climate campaigners and some European and U.S. lawmakers for its appointment of state-owned oil company ADNOC’s CEO, Sultan al-Jaber, as president of the COP28 talks.
ADNOC plans to expand its oil production capacity and grow its gas output.
Jim Skea, chair of the U.N.’s climate science panel, said on Monday that, by 2050, global oil use must drop by 60 percent and gas use by 45 percent if the world is to avoid temperatures increasing above 1.5 degrees Celsius—the threshold beyond which climate change would unleash more disastrous and irreversible impacts.
In this scenario, by 2050, Skea told the COP28 summit, “Fossil fuel use is greatly reduced,” adding that CO2-emitting coal use is completely phased out.