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Why World Can’t Quit Fossil Fuels

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Have the recent pronouncements of the death of oil and reigning renewables been more rhetoric than reality? Yes and no. It’s true that peak oil is now closer than ever, and globally we’re seeing a more earnest effort to decarbonize than ever before, in large part thanks to green stimulus packages for post-COVID economic recovery.
But for all of the advances that green energy is making around the world, it’s just not enough to achieve the kind of greenhouse gas emissions reductions necessary to curb the impact of climate change. In fact, it’s not even close.
This week Axios reported on the “chasm between CO2 goals and energy production,” saying that “projected and planned levels of global oil, natural gas and coal production are way out of step with the kind of emissions cuts needed to hold global warming significantly in check.” This reporting is based on a brand new study.
The second annual “Production Gap Report” is the continuation of a project developed in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The 2020 report was put together by the UN, the Stockholm Environment Institute, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the Overseas Development Institute and the climate think tank E3G.
The purpose of the report, which is modelled after and alongside UNEP’s Emissions Gap Reports is to synthesize and communicate “the large discrepancy between countries’ planned fossil fuel production and the global production levels necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C and 2°C.” And, as it turns out, that discrepancy is still quite large, even after the COVID-19 pandemic took a huge bite out of fossil fuel demand and the oil and gas industry as a whole.
The report calculates the emissions that will be released from fuel combustion over the next calendar year based on projections and extrapolations of all the countries of the worlds’ planned and estimated fossil fuel extraction. The prognosis is grim.
While meeting the Paris climate accord goal of limiting and maintaining long-term global warming to just 1.5° Celsius over pre-industrial temperature averages would require the global community to reduce fossil fuel production by a full 6 percent each year over the course of the next decade, right now most countries are reaching toward a reduction goal of just 2 percent less than half of what is needed.
Despite the fact that all 196 members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) signed onto the Paris Agreement, according to the 2020 Production Gap report, “countries are instead planning and projecting an average annual increase of 2 percent, which by 2030 would result in more than double the production consistent with the 1.5°C limit.”
While the world is heading in the right direction overall to bring down greenhouse gas emissions on the eve of catastrophic climate change, it simply isn’t doing so with enough urgency. For example, while coal has had an especially rough year and seems to be on its very last legs as an industry, it would need to see a whopping 11 percent production cut every year until 2030 to comply with the 1.5°C pathway. It’s hard to see that happening when countries like China are falling back on coal in times of economic and energy insecurity.
Similarly, while OPEC+ is mulling over the idea of extending production cuts to keep oil prices afloat during this extended oil demand downturn, it would be shortsighted and naive to think that means the end of oil is upon us. While we may very well be living in the era of peak oil, that is a far cry from seeing a 6 percent annual decrease of the fuel that still overwhelmingly powers the global economy.
Ultimately, in spite of all the lofty rhetoric, “the pandemic-related production declines this year won’t lead to the long-term changes needed to get on track toward those temperature targets.” For that we need human intervention and intentional economic and political restructuring, not just viral disruption.
Zaremba first published this piece in the London-based Oilprice.com

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British Govt Launches Inquiry Into Its Handling Of Coronavirus

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A public inquiry is being launched into the British government’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said on Wednesday.
The inquiry, which will begin in the spring of 2022, will place “the state’s actions under the microscope” and help Britain “to learn every lesson for the future,” Johnson told lawmakers in the British Parliament.
“Amid such tragedy, the state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as candidly as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future – which is why I’ve always said when the time is right there should be a full and independent inquiry.
“So, I can confirm today that the government will establish an independent public inquiry on a statutory basis, with full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 – including the ability to compel the production of all relevant materials and take oral evidence in public under oath,” Johnson said.
He added that the devolved parliaments of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales would also be consulted before the publishing of the report.
Opposition leader, Keir Starmer, praised the decision to conduct an inquiry, but urged for it to be carried out sooner.
He also urged that both families affected by the coronavirus and front line workers be consulted, as well as the devolved parliaments.
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WHO Panel Urges Bold Overhaul Of Pandemic Prevention Measures

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The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), appointed by World Health Organisation (WHO), on Wednesday urged bold action to end the Covid-19 pandemic.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, in his opening remarks at the launch of the IPPPR Report at the world health body’s headquarters in Geneva welcomed the findings of the panel.
Ghebreyesus said: “ we welcome today’s presentation of the panel’s findings and recommendations, and we look forward to the publication of the full report at the World Health Assembly.
“The Independent Panel’s report is one of a suite of reports reviewing different aspects of the pandemic, and WHO’s work, including the Review Committee on the Functioning of the International Health Regulations.
“The Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme; The external Evaluation of the Transformation Agenda and the Intergovernmental working group on Sustainable Financing.
“We look forward to reviewing all of these reports, and to discussing them with our Member States in the coming weeks.’’
The director general, however, thanked former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, co-chair of IPPPR and the Right Honourable Helen Clark for their leadership, as well as the panel members and Secretariat.
“We look forward to working with our Member States to discuss the recommendations of this Panel and the other committees to build a stronger WHO and a healthier, safer, fairer future for all of us,’’ he said.
Sirleaf, in her remarks, said: “Our message is simple and clear: the current system failed to protect us from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If we do not act to change it now, it will not protect us from the next pandemic threat, which could happen at any time.”
Similarly in her remarks, co-chair of IPPPR, Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand said: “The tools are available to put an end to the severe illnesses, deaths, and socio-economic damage caused by Covid-19.
“ We have no choice but to act to stop such a catastrophe happening again,’’ she said.
The panel – whose report contains “the authoritative chronology of what happened” – also insisted that February 2020 was “a lost month”.
This was because “many more countries” could have done more to contain the spread of the new coronavirus after the WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020 after the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China.
According to Sirleaf, the shelves of storage rooms in the UN and national capitals are full of reports and reviews of previous health crises.
“Had their warnings been heeded, we would have avoided the catastrophe we are in today. This time must be different.’’
Quicker action “would have helped to prevent the global health, social, and economic catastrophe that continues its grip”, the panel noted.
The panel added that “the system as it stands now is clearly unfit to prevent another novel and highly infectious pathogen, which could emerge at any time, from developing into a pandemic.’’
Among its recommendations, the panel urged Heads of State to take the lead in supporting proven public health measures to curb the pandemic and implement reforms “to prevent a future outbreak” from spreading globally.
The panel also advised high-income countries with adequate vaccine supply to commit to provide “at least one billion” doses to the 92 low and middle-income countries in the UN-led equitable vaccine scheme, COVAX, by September.
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De-Escalation, An Absolute Must In Israel-Palestine Conflict – UN Chief

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United Nation’s Secretary-General, António Guterres, declared on Wednesday that de-escalation of the Palestine-Israel conflict was “an absolute must”, saying that the mounting death toll, including children, is totally unacceptable.
Guterres, after meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow, said that an end to the violence was needed “to protect the lives of civilians that are now dying in totally unacceptable circumstances”.
According to news reports, the violence has seen more than 50 Palestinians killed along with six Israelis since Monday.
Meanwhile, in New York, the renewed conflict represents the most serious escalation between Israelis and Palestinians “in years”, the UN Special Coordinator for the region told the Security Council.
UN Spokesperson, Stéph-ane Dujarric, briefed reporters in New York at the regular noon press conference, on the update given by Tor Wennesland to the Council, which met behind closed doors.
“We are very concerned by the growing civilian casualties in both Gaza and Israel, and deeply saddened by reported deaths of children in Gaza,” Dujarric said.
He said that the Secretary-General and Wennesland had both reiterated that: “Hamas and other militants’ indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars violated the humanitarian law.
“They have emphasised that indiscriminate launching of rockets from highly populated civilian neighbourhoods towards civilian population centres violated international humanitarian law, and it is unacceptable and has to stop immediately.”
The spokesperson said the Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process had also told ambassadors that Israeli authorities must “abide by their responsibilities under international law”.
In addition, he said that Israeli security forces should exercise maximum restraint, calibrate their use of force to spare civilians and civilian objects in the conduct of military operations.
The Secretary-General is “particularly appalled that children continue to be victims of violence”, said Dujarric, adding that youngsters needed to be given special protection.
“He and his Envoy have called on the international community to take action to enable the parties to step back from the brink and return to the previous understandings.
“To return to previous understanding that have maintained a relative calm in Gaza and avoid a descent into chaos, with the massive casualties and immense damage to civilian infrastructure that would result,” the spokesperson said.
Wennesland, however, reminded Council members that it was the civilian population on both sides, that bore the burden of war and that the most vulnerable are the ones at greatest risk of suffering.
He also told the Council that the cycle of violence would only end with a political resolution of the conflict, an end to the occupation and a realisation of a two-State solution on the basis of UN resolutions, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Henrietta Fore, said on Wednesday that at least 14 children in Palestine and one child in Israel have been reported killed since Monday.
She noted that another 95 children in Gaza and the West Bank – including East Jerusalem – and three children in Israel have reportedly been injured in the past five days.
“The situation is at a dangerous tipping point. The level of violence and its impact on children is devastating. We are on the brink of a full-scale war. In any war, children – all children – suffer first and suffer most”.
She urged all sides to “protect all civilians, especially children, to spare essential civilian infrastructure from attacks, and to end violations against children”. (
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