This synthesis report was conducted by Freddie Daley of the University of Sussex in collaboration with the Fossil Fuel Non- Proliferation Treaty Initiative, as well as key partners in each of the five countries analysed – Greenpeace Norway, The Australia Institute, Stand.earth, Uplift UK and Oil Change International.
The scientific consensus is clear: limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels is essential to protecting lives and livelihoods the world over.
Current pledges, promises and international commitments from governments around the world put the planet on track for nearly 3°C of heating by the end of this century, far more warming than allowed under the goals of the Paris Agreement. While some progress has been made in ramping up commitments to reduce emissions in the build up to COP26 in Glasgow, this limited progress is likely to be completely undermined by a failure to address the ongoing and expanding production of fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels are by far the biggest contributor to climate change, responsible for 86% of CO2 emissions in the past decade. And nearly two thirds of greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution can be traced back to just 90 fossil fuel companies. Enough coal, oil and gas is already under production in existing mines and wells today to take humanity well beyond 1.5°C if burnt. Yet, despite this, governments around the world are expected to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels by 2030 that is consistent with keeping the 1.5°C target alive.
The United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Norway and Australia represent five wealthy fossil fuel producer and exporter countries with high levels of historic responsibility for the climate crisis, and low levels of dependence on fossil fuels for economic development. These five countries, referred to in this paper as the Fossil Fuelled 5, have both the responsibility and capacity to transition rapidly away from fossil fuels with limited impact to their own economies, and to support developing countries around the world to move away from fossil fuels, under timeframes and conditions that are fair, reasonable and just. Yet, despite these wealthy countries holding themselves up as climate leaders and pioneers, they are failing to provide international leadership on halting fossil fuel expansion and winding down production in a just and equitable manner. Instead, they are downplaying their historical responsibility for the climate crisis and effectively appropriating the limited remaining fossil fuels that can be produced before humanity breaches 1.5°C.