The World Energy Outlook 2016, released last week, is just one among an increasing line of studies showing how nations need to slow and, ultimately, phase out investment in new fossil fuel supply infrastructure – from oil fields and pipelines to coal mines – if they are serious about keeping warming to 2C or less.
At the same time, Norway is making licenses available for offshore drilling in the Arctic. New pipelines from the Canadian oil sands would enable the export greater amounts of highly polluting oil. The Australian government has approved large new coal mines to supply the Asian market. These types of investments only make economic sense in a future with 4–5C of warming.
While these and other governments have adopted nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement that promise to reduce their own territorial emissions, their plans are silent on slowing the production and export of fossil fuels. “Fossil fuels” still seem to be taboo words at the UN climate talks.
Yet as evidenced by the packed room and intense discussion at a side-event we co-hosted at the Marrakech climate change conference, there is growing recognition that the oversupply of fossil fuels is an urgent problem. And although the Marrakech talks skirted the topic, the Paris Agreement does offer opportunities to limit future fossil fuel production. Here are five ways to do so.