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Are the Worlds Governments Supporting Renewables?

The United Nations (UNs) recently published a report. It outlined the support provided to the energy industry as a result of COVID-19.

The study found the world’s largest economies provided more support to the fossil fuel industry compared to the clean energy sector. The major fossil fuel producers continue the course to increase the extraction of more coal, oil, and gas than in previous years.

At the latest G20 Summit, a group comprising of the 20 largest economies, committed $316 billion in public funds to recovery efforts that support fossil fuel extraction and consumption. These included subsidies for airlines, car manufacturers and fossil-based power consumers.

The renewable sector received $196 billion, funding renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon alternatives.

Some of the money given to the fossil fuel industry went to reducing emissions. Canada put $2.4 billion towards methane emission reduction and the clean-up of orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells.

The report showed that fossil fuel extraction declined during the pandemic however post pandemic plans are to increase production.

The UNs estimates, show the global fossil fuel production could drop by 7% in 2020, led by coal extraction by 8%, oil by 7% and gas by 3% compared to 2019.

The report also estimates what the UNs call a “production gap”, an indicator created by the report’s authors, that tallies national plans for coal, oil and gas production, and compares that with what can be burned while sticking to the UNs Paris Agreement.

“Five years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the world is still far from meeting its climate goals” United Nations Environment Program executive director Inger Andersen said, referring to the global agreement to curb greenhouse gases to keep the average global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees and “well below” 2 degrees, compared with pre-industrial levels.

This shows there is still a disconnect between Paris temperature goals and countries’ plans to extract coal, oil, and gas.

The UNs reports also point towards a potential turning point, as the pandemic has prompted unprecedented government action as China, Japan and South Korea have pledged to reach net-zero emissions.