Fossil fuels

Climate: Politicians pay more attention to the fossil fuel industry than to scientists' warnings

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According to a report just released by the global partnership Climate TransparencyIn the G20 countries, 82 % of energy is still supplied by fossil fuels: oil, coal, gas. This situation is based on the doubling of subsidies to fossil fuel industrialists over the last ten years. Subsidies designed to compete with increasingly cheap wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. These policy choices, which run counter to the warnings of the vast majority of climate scientists, will result in global temperatures rising to 3.2°C, well above the target agreed in Paris.
 
Ahe G20 is the club of the world's twenty largest economies. Of these 20 countries, 15 have significantly increased their greenhouse gas emissions in the past year. This alarming result is the result of the most comprehensive review to date of the achievement of the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
 
document "Brown to Green" written by the international partnership Climate Transparency  reports that 82 % of the energy of the G20 countries is still supplied by fossil fuels. Oil, gas and coal are still, despite all the warnings from scientists and in particular the latest IPCC report, the major source of world energy supply. Worse, the fossil fuel sector has seen the subsidies granted to it by national policies double in about ten years. On the one hand, politicians are adopting encouraging rhetoric about their intentions to fight global warming; on the other, they are subsidizing the most dangerous energies in order to help industrialists compete with green energy.
 

Fossil fuel subsidies have doubled

In ten years, from 2007 to 2016, fossil fuel subsidies increased from $75 billion to $147 billion. It should be remembered that all G20 states had committed to phasing them out over the past 10 years. « The fossil fuel industry is fighting against cheap renewable energy. The old economy is well organised and is putting pressure on governments to spend tax money to subsidise the old world. ' John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis for the cybersecurity company FireEye, states Jan Buerck, one of the authors of the report, to The Guardian.
 
Politicians say they will change and meet their COP 21 commitments, but in reality they are doing just the opposite. These policy choices set the world on a trajectory of a 3.2°C increase in average global temperatures, more than double the 1.5°C lower threshold set in Paris. But this threshold, according to scientists, is the cut-off point for giving ourselves one last chance to save ecosystems and the survival of hundreds of millions of people exposed to increased drought, floods and forest fires.
 
Comparing different countries' targets and policies, the paper found that only India was on track to stay below the Paris agreement's upper limit of 2°C, while the worst offenders - Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - would lead the world above 4°C.
 
China, the world's largest emitter, stabilized its carbon emissions for a few years by reducing its dependence on coal, but this positive trend was reversed last year. Indonesia, Brazil and Argentina have promised to reduce deforestation, but the rate of forest destruction does not seem to be reversing. And the election of the new Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro does not bode well for the preservation of the Amazon rainforest.

READ UP : Does the new Brazilian president want to destroy the Amazon rainforest?

Britain has made the fastest transition, with a 7.7 % drop in fossil fuel use between 2012 and 2015, but the report warns that this could come to a halt in the coming years as the British government cuts support for feed-in tariffs, energy efficiency and carbon-free homes.
 
As far as the United States is concerned, despite President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the voluntarist policy of certain cities and states in disengaging from fossil fuels has resulted in the United States generally being in a trend of relative compliance with its commitments.
 
Share of fossil fuels and zero-carbon fuels in total primary energy supply (TPES)
 

France, a good pupil under duress

France, for its part, is one of the countries making efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a reduction path of 2.7 %. It is helped in this by the large share of nuclear power in the energy mix.
However, on a closer look, by sector of activity, France has reduced its emissions in the energy sector but still remains at high levels in the transport (38 %) and agriculture (26 %) sectors.
 
Pressure from the fossil fuel industry, as well as from corporate interests and protest movements such as the "yellow vest" movement, will inevitably intensify as governments are called upon to extend emissions reductions to the transport and agriculture sectors. This is a tough battle to fight as time is running out in the war on global warming.
 
 

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