The US, Canada, Australia, Norway and the UK -account for 51 per cent of the planned expansion from new oil and gas fields through 2050, as per a new report
International climate policy experts have denounced the "hypocrisy" of some developed countries for their continued expansion of fossil fuel production despite lofty promises to combat climate change and have asked them to come clean to the COP28 in Dubai and demonstrate genuine leadership.
A new report titled "Planet Wreckers: How 20 Countries' Oil and Gas Extraction Plans Risk Locking in Climate Chaos" has exposed the staggering scale of the issue, revealing that five global north countries -- the US, Canada, Australia, Norway and the UK -- account for 51 per cent of the planned expansion from new oil and gas fields through 2050.
The report by research and advocacy group Oil Change International comes ahead of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres' Climate Ambition Summit in New York City.
Guterres has called for countries to show up with commitments to stop oil and gas expansion and plan a phase-out of existing production in line with the 1.5-degree-celsius limit.
The report says these rich nations must halt expansion immediately, prioritise production phase-outs and contribute fairly to global energy transition funding. Failure to do so could result in 173 billion tonnes of carbon pollution, equivalent to over 1,100 new coal plants' lifetime emissions or more than 30 years of US annual carbon output, being released.
Diego Pacheco, head of the Bolivian delegation and spokesperson of the Like-Minded Developing Countries at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told PTI that developed countries are pursuing an "imperial strategy of hypocrisy".
"Rich countries of the (Global) North continue planning new oil and gas production while trying to impose goals of zero oil and gas production in the short term on developing countries, thus consuming the remaining carbon budget that already belongs to developing countries," he said.
Pacheco added that the narrative of "keeping 1.5 degrees alive" is merely a Trojan horse that conceals a new form of colonialism known as carbon colonialism.
"This approach creates a flexible and comfortable path for developed countries, allowing them to continue their business-as-usual strategies while imposing incredible sacrifices on the people of developing countries. Among these are the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, who will be left without any option to live a life with justice and dignity," he said.
Meena Raman, director of programmes at global research organisation Third World Network, said, "The hypocrisy of the West is nothing new and this report further confirms this."
The report underscores the stark contrast between rhetoric and action. Developed countries, often proclaiming themselves as climate leaders, fall short when it comes to meaningful efforts to phase out fossil fuels. Instead, they persist in expanding drilling operations and lecturing the developing world about reducing coal and fossil fuel subsidies, she said.
"This report shows their bluff has been exposed," the climate policy expert told PTI.
Raman underscored the need for developed nations to align their actions with their climate ambitions, saying it is time for them to abandon duplicity and demonstrate genuine leadership.
"These countries must come clean to COP28 and announce that they will stop the expansion of fossil fuels immediately, phase out existing production, and pay their fair share to the Green Climate Fund to support the transition in developing countries and to the soon-to-be-set-up Loss and Damage Fund," she said.
Raman argued that failure to act will condemn both their own populations and the world to further suffering from the devastating impacts of climate change.
Climate Action Network-International Global Policy Lead Indrajit Bose noted the dissonance between developed countries' rhetoric and actions and stressed that these nations must align their actions with their advocacy for fossil fuel phase-out and the importance of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"The IPCC's (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) sixth assessment report (AR6) states that global fossil fuel use must substantially decline by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Developed countries must take the lead in phasing out fossil fuels and, in accordance with principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities, provide financial and other support to developing nations," he told PTI.
Bose argued that achieving a just transition and fossil fuel phase-out in the Global South requires substantial international support in various forms and highlighted the principle that those historically and currently contributing the most to the climate crisis must significantly increase their support for those who have contributed the least.