4 April 2022, London – Today’s warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that the global heating threshold of 1.5°C is under its most critical threat, must herald an end to the age of dirty fossil fuels and toward a rapid acceleration of renewable energy.

This alarming warning for the climate comes against a backdrop of huge rises in the cost of energy, plunging millions into energy poverty, as well as Russia’s brutal and fossil fuel funded war on Ukraine. Yet despite fossil fuels sitting at the heart of these crises – three of the biggest the world is today grappling with - governments and fossil fuel companies remain committed to the continued extraction and burning of oil and gas.

According to the recent “Production Gap” report by the UN Environmental Programme world governments plan to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Likewise fossil fuel companies continue to spend billions searching for new oil and gas fields, to carry on with the destructive burning of fossil fuels.

Mike Davis, Global Witness CEO, said:

“How many more warnings do we need before we take the necessary action to avert the climate crisis? How many more people must be plunged into poverty before we realise the energy system is broken? And how many more lives must be lost at the hands of dictators and despots before we realise fossil fuels are their currency? Fossil fuels are polluting the planet, making people poor, and lining Putin's pockets.”

“Harnessing technological advancements in the fight against the climate crisis should be encouraged but absolutely should not be seen as an alternative to stopping the destructive climate practices that are responsible for bringing us to this point. The single best method, readily available now, is to move off fossil fuels and to renewable energy, whilst rolling out mass home insulation.”

“Likewise false or unproven solutions being pushed by big oil and gas companies, such as carbon capture and storage, must not be used by the industry to greenwash. They risk being expensive, ineffective distractions from the real solutions the world desperately needs.”

As well as emphasising the need to move away from fossil fuels, the IPCC report also highlights the vital importance of forests in mitigating the climate crisis.

Forests act as crucial carbon sinks and they also cool the planet through their biophysical impact, keeping global temperatures at least 0.5°C cooler. Yet they are being destroyed at alarming rates, including record levels of deforestation taking place in the Amazon rainforest, emitting vast amounts of carbon in the process. If deforestation were a country, it would rank third in CO2 emissions, after China and the US

Veronica Oakeshott, Head of Forests Policy and Advocacy at Global Witness, said:

“Forests and the communities that have safeguarded them for generations are the world’s frontline defence against climate change. The latest IPCC report is another stark reminder that to have any hope of staying within 1.5°C we must keep the world’s forests standing.”

“As global deforestation continues apace, big banks are profiting from this destruction while the world is heating up and the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and forest communities are being devastated.”

“Governments must urgently act to cut off the market for products that come from deforested land and stop the international money flows that enable destructive agribusinesses to keep chopping down forests in the first place.”