Author(s): Piggot, G., Erickson, P.

Year: 2017

Type: Policy brief



Link to SEI authors:

How to address fossil fuel production under the UNFCCC

SEI 2017 PB how to address fossil fuelOld pump jacks move up and down in the Kern River Oil Field outside of Bakersfield, CA. Credit: Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking

This policy brief describes how countries can address a phase-down of fossil fuel production within the current architecture of the Paris Agreement.

Burning fossil fuels produces the vast majority of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions globally. Yet, the text of the most ambitious international climate agreement to date – the Paris Agreement – contains no mention of fossil fuels.

That omission can be understood as an effort to be equally inclusive of all sources of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, as well as an accommodation of the concerns of major fossil fuel producing nations. But it may not be wise to continue with the omission of fossil fuels forever.

Ultimately, meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement to keep warming “well below 2°C” and “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels” will require a phase-down in the consumption and production of coal, oil, and natural gas.

This policy brief, based on an SEI working paper, outlines why it is important for Parties to the Paris Agreement to explicitly address the phase-down of fossil fuel production under the UNFCCC. It also describes how countries aiming to keep fossil fuel supply in line with the Paris goals could articulate and report their actions within the current architecture of the Agreement, and it outlines how the UNFCCC could foster such actions.

Download the policy brief (PDF, 1.9MB)

Read the related working paper