Closing the fossil fuel production gap

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and economic consequences
Stockholm Environment Institute U.S.
DKK 2,000,000
Programme Area
Sustainable Finance

Until recently, governments have been reluctant to acknowledge the strong connection between fossil fuel production and the climate crisis. Indeed, the words “fossil fuels” appear nowhere in the landmark Paris Agreement. However, when the UN Secretary General, on the eve of the climate talks in late 2019, stated that “we simply have to stop digging and drilling”, it became clear that the conflict between continued fossil fuel exploration and production and global climate goals was firmly, and finally, on the climate policy agenda.


This was driven partly by the Stockholm Environment Institute U.S with its Fossil Fuel Production Gap Report from 2019. The report highlighted an alarming gap between the Paris goals and countries’ plans for fossil fuel production, which is currently putting the world on track to produce 120 percent more fossil fuels by 2030 than consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Thanks to clear messaging, a strong communications strategy, and UN endorsement, the report received strong, worldwide media attention upon release. It has proven valuable not just to national and international leaders and civil society, but among government actors that oversee fossil fuel production or could act to slow it.

Building on momentum from the highly successful first Fossil Fuel Production Gap Report from 2019, SEI-US recently released a 2020 Special Report. The issue speaks to major changes in energy markets and government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and explores how countries can build back better while transitioning away from oil, coal, and gas.

Stockholm Environment Institute U.S
SEI is an independent international research institute, with over 250 employees across eight centres worldwide and a mission to bridge science, policy and practice to support sustainable development through research, policy engagement and capacity building. As domestic and international pressure is growing, in most countries oil, gas, and coal production is only beginning to enter the climate policy agenda. Fossil fuel infrastructure continues to expand, with global upstream oil and gas investment once again on the rise. SEI plays a critical role in building the scientific case and research and practice community for supply-side action and bringing important powerful voices and institutions such as the UN into the effort.

About the 2020 Special Report

The 2020 Special Report discusses opportunities for closing the production gap and supporting transitions for countries with fossil fuel resources. The report aims to be a valuable resource as governments respond to the pandemic and its social and economic consequences, and serves as a foundation for the SEI- US’ continuous work to:

  • Create transparency around current fossil fuel development plans and pathways as well as awareness of their (in)consistency with the Paris Agreement.
  • Support networks and strengthen advocacy, research, and finance communities working to wind down fossil fuel supply in a just and equitable manner.
  • Increase awareness, consideration, and action to phase down fossil fuel supply as a key element of comprehensive climate policy.
  • Increase uptake of key messages and ownership by UN and other international institutions and governments actors
  • Convene a third conference on fossil fuel supply and turning the Production Gap Report into a recurring annual touchstone report, with the goal of driving swifter national and collective action to slow and reverse fossil fuel expansion.
Read the full report
“To limit warming to 1.5°C or well below 2°C, as required by the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world needs to wind down fossil fuel production. Instead, governments continue to plan to produce coal, oil, and gas far in excess of the levels consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature limits.”
Production Gap Report 2020