Two worlds



From the Paris Agreement to COP 26: What money tells us

“Almost everything we understand today about global warming was understood in 1979.” (Nathaniel Rich).[1]

A little over 40 years ago, in 1979, two events marked the history of the formation of scientific consensus on climate change. The first, the report commissioned by the National Research Council of the USA, coordinated by Jule Charney, stated:[2] “We've known for more than a century that changes in the atmosphere's composition can affect its ability to retain the sun's energy for our benefit. We now have incontrovertible evidence that the atmosphere is indeed changing and that we ourselves have contributed to this change. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are continually increasing, and these changes are linked to human use of fossil fuels and exploitation of the earth.”

The second event, the 1a World Climate Conference (WCC) in Geneva, was attended by scientists from 50 nations and can be considered the most important global scientific initiative before the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It was, as said, in 1979 and scientists already agreed that it was “urgently necessary for the nations of the world to anticipate and avoid potentially anthropogenic changes in climate that could be adverse to the well-being of humanity”.[3]

The year 1988 brought three other fundamental milestones in this history: (1) the creation of the IPCC; (2) the famous testimony of James Hansen presented to the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in which the scientist stated: “Global warming is now large enough to be attributable with a high degree of confidence, in a relation of cause to effect, to the greenhouse effect. (…) The greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now”[4]; (3) the Toronto Conference on Climate Change, considered the first major intergovernmental conference on climate change, brought together 340 participants from 46 countries. His final statement anticipated what we all now know: "Humanity is conducting an unintentional, uncontrolled, globally sweeping experiment whose ultimate consequences are surpassed only by global nuclear war."[5]

Since 1979, passing through 1988 and the structuring ECO-92, creator, for example, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), two worlds evolve in divergent paths. The first is the data, impacts and warnings of scientists about the climate emergency, echoed today in the noisy, and more or less empty, “sustainability” rhetoric of government officials; the other is the silent world of money, that is, investments and, in general, everything that is guided by the expansive logic of the economic system. The growing distance between these two worlds is measured in a particularly didactic way in the mismatch between the objectives of the Paris Agreement of December 2015 and the actions that achieving these objectives would entail in governance and economic activity.

Although well known, it is worth remembering the objectives of this Agreement, formulated in its article 2, paragraph 1:[6]

1 – Improving the implementation of the [UNFCCC] Convention and its purpose,[7] this Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including: (a) Keeping the global average temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and make efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1,5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increase adaptive capacity to the adverse impacts of climate change, promote climate resilience and development with low greenhouse gas emissions, so as not to threaten food production; and (c) Make financial flows consistent with a scenario of low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development.

Let's put it bluntly: after 43 years of "incontrovertible evidence" of climate change and almost six years of the Paris Agreement, its current trajectory is one of acceleration in the diametrically opposite direction of its central objective: to contain global average warming "well below" 2oC compared to the pre-industrial period. This is because, as the IPCC showed in 2018,[8] the impacts of a planet whose average temperatures exceed this warming limit practically make an organized society unfeasible.

We are, in fact, evolving in the opposite direction to the goals of the Paris Agreement, which suppose to reduce emissions and atmospheric concentrations of Greenhouse Effect Gases (GHG): PBL's December 2020 report Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, according to EDGAR data (Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research), says:[9] “Global GHG emissions in 2019 reached 57,4 GtCO2and [billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent[10]], when including emissions caused by changes in land use (estimated with great uncertainty at 5 GtCO2and +/-50%), which represents a 70% increase compared to 2018.”

Figure 1 shows the evolution of these emissions between 1990 and 2019.

Figure 1 – Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 1990 and 2019, by type of gas (CO2, CH4, N2O and fluorinated gases) and by sources of emissions (energy, transport, agriculture, industrial processes, land use, land use change and timber industry). Source: JGJ Olivier & JAHW Peters, “Trends in Global CO2 and Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2020 Report”. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 20/XII/2020, p. 17.

In 2019, “the growth of total GHG emissions (excluding emissions from land use changes) continued to grow at a rate of 1,1% (±1%)”. This is the same growth rate as in the recent past, as “global emissions increased at an average rate of 1,1% per year between 2012 and 2019”. In addition, in 2019, GHG emissions were 59% higher than in 1990 and 44% higher than in 2000 (in all cases cited, not counting emissions from land use change, especially deforestation) .[11] In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic brought down CO emissions2 by almost 2 billion tons, or about 6%, mainly because of the decrease in the use of oil for road transport and aviation. This is, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the biggest annual decline since World War II. But already in December 2020, GHG emissions related to power generation exceeded by 2% the emissions of December 2019. In China, there was an increase of 0,8% in GHG emissions in 2020 compared to 2019. India and Brazil, 2020 emissions surpassed those of 2019 as of the 4th quarter of the year.

In March 2021, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, sounded the alarm:[12] “The recovery in global carbon emissions at the end of last year is a stark reminder that not enough is being done to accelerate the world's clean energy transitions. If governments don't act quickly with the right energy policies, it could jeopardize the world's historic opportunity to make 2019 the ultimate peak in global emissions."

COP25 (Madrid, 2019) only reinforced the blockages of the Paris Agreement (the commodification of carbon, provided for in Article 6, for example[13]), partly attributable to sabotage by delegations from the US, Australia and Brazil, winner of the “Fossil of the Year Award” for environmental setbacks.[14] The predictions of COP26, which will open in November 2021 in Glasgow, do not seem to reverse the perception that the Paris Agreement is already doomed to an outcome substantially analogous to that of the disastrous Kyoto Protocol (1997-2012).

follow the money

Declaring the Paris Agreement a failure may seem too hasty. But it is not. James Hansen had already predicted it in 2015[15] and he was right, because it is necessary to look at what the melodious government promises hide: money. Investments and financing show that there is no relevant energy transition under way to contain global warming. The IEA liquidated the last vestiges of credibility of this energy transition fable by releasing its report “Net Zero by 2050”, an Agency roadmap to guide the new commitments presented at COP26.

Its projections run through 2030 and 2050 and its central message is simple: (1) maintain a reasonable chance of containing the Paris Agreement targets of average global warming between 1,5oC and 2oC requires net emissions (ie beyond what the planet's natural systems can absorb) of carbon to be zero by 2050; (2) to zero these net emissions in 2050, it is necessary to zero investments in fossil fuels now. In the IEA's non-prescriptive language, “there is no need for investments in new fossil fuel supply on our path to zero net carbon emissions” [by 2050].[16] This means, I repeat, that any additional investment in fossil energy today prevents containing average global warming by 2oC above the pre-industrial period.

It so happens that global investments in fossil energies show no signs of declining. On the contrary. Since the Paris Agreement (2015), the World Bank invested more than US$ 12 billion in fossil fuels, of which US$ 10,5 billion in financing new fossil energy projects.[17] But there is worse than that: between 2016 and 2020, the 60 largest banks in the world financed the fossil fuel industry with resources worth US$ 3,8 trillion,[18] an amount more than twice as large as Brazil's GDP in 2019 (US$1,84 trillion). These loans increase year by year between 2016 and 2019, and even those in 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, were higher than those in 2016 and 2017, as shown in Table 1:

Table 1 – Financing of the fossil fuel industry by the 60 largest banks in the world between 2016 and 2020 (in billions of dollars).



2017 2018 2019 2020
Billions (US$) 709,2 740,4 780,9 823,6 750,7

Source: Banking on Climate Chaos. Fossil Fuel Finance Report, 2021>.

Thanks to these funds, the upstream investments in oil and natural gas, that is, investments in feasibility studies, prospecting, platforms, equipment leasing, drilling, extraction, etc. have been increasing between 2016-2019, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 – Global investments in production (upstream) of oil and natural gas between 2014 and 2019, in billions of dollars. Source: IEA, Oil 2019. Analysis and Forecast to 2024.


The 30 Banks and the “Arctic Expansionists”

The Arctic, an ecosystem as rich, fragile and vulnerable as it is abundant in oil and natural gas, is attracting ever more investment and underwriting from banks and insurance companies, as well as asset managers (Assets under management), such as BlackRock, Vanguard and Crédit Agricole (via Amundi). O Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) lists 599 locations with potential for oil and gas production in the region. Of this total, 220 sites, containing 130 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), are already being explored in 2021, 25 of which are in deep waters, with a high risk of environmental disasters. These 220 already operational sites produced 4 billion barrels of oil in 2020 alone and emitted 1,3 billion tons of CO2and, that is, more than Japan's emissions in 2018. Another 39 sites, containing 147 billion BOE, are in the study and planning phase and there are still 338 sites, containing 266 billion BOE exploitable with current technology, which would represent 15% of the predicted global increase in oil production by 2030. “Arctic expansionists”, as the Reclaim Finance.[19] The most important of these is Gazprom, renationalized by Vladimir Putin in 2000, with 74% of its oil and natural gas reserves located in the Arctic.

The public and private financial sector is, as always, the nerve of war, in this case the war of extermination waged by capitalism against planetary life. The numbers are eloquent:[20] “From 2016 to 2020, commercial banks funneled $314 billion to Arctic expansionists in lending and underwriting. As of March 2021, investors held an estimated $272 billion in these same companies in stocks and bonds. (…) 80% of all loans and underwriting for the Arctic expansionists came from just 30 banks”.

The vicious circle of heating

In the Arctic, which is already warming two to three times faster than the global average, there is a very dangerous feedback loop of warming. The rapid melting that is taking place throughout this region, caused in part by the burning of fossil fuels, increases the supply of these fuels, since the less ice in the region, the easier it becomes to exploit its oil and natural gas deposits and export them. The vicious circle is also driven by the fact that the ice is darkened by the soot emitted by this exploration, which increases the absorption of solar radiation in the region (decreased albedo), further accelerating the melting of ice and, therefore, warming. In addition, melting ice and permanently frozen soils (permafrost) activates the metabolization of organic material by bacteria, which engenders the release of increasing amounts of methane, a very powerful GHG, already responsible for 20% to 30% of global warming.[21]

Once imprisoned in permafrost and in the methane hydrates of the shallow seabed of the Siberian continental shelf, methane begins to be released in increasing amounts into the atmosphere. It is estimated that shallow deposits of methane hydrates currently occupy about 57% (1,25 million km2) from the bed of the East Siberian Marine Platform (ESAS), particularly shallow as three quarters of its 2,5 million km area2 are less than 40 meters deep. ESAS can preserve more than 1.400 Gt of methane, making this region the largest and most vulnerable methane deposit (CH4) submarine in the world. How quickly this methane will be released is uncertain, but this release is accelerating.[22]

2 – The share of King Coal

Coal was also well allocated by investments by the financial sector, according to information from a coalition of NGOs, published in February 2021. Globally, commercial banks channeled more resources (in loans and subscriptions[23]) for coal in 2020 (US$ 543 billion until October of this year) than in 2016 (US$ 491 billion), an increase of 11% since the Paris Agreement entered into force, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3-Bank loans and subscriptions by commercial banks to the coal industry between 2016 and 2020 in billions of dollars. The bottom part of each column represents loans and the top part represents subscriptions. Source: Urgewald, Reclaim Finance, Rainforest Action Network, Japan and 25 NGO partners, “Groundbreaking Research Reveals the Financiers of the Coal Industry”. February 2021.

Note: *Data up to October 2020, with extrapolation up to December.

As of January 2021, 4.488 institutional investors were globally putting resources of US$1,03 trillion into companies operating along thermal coal value chains.[24] In 2018, Russia produced 439 million tons (Mt) of coal and the different production scenarios in 2035 oscillate between 383 and 703 Mt.[25] The country plans, by 2040, to reduce its coal consumption by… 8%. A Joint Stock Company Siberian Coal Energy Company (JSC SUEK), Russia's largest coal mining corporation, boasts a production of over 100 Mt of coal per year and has plans for an additional 25 Mt in the Kuzbass region (SW Siberia). In 2021, its CEO, Stepan Solzhenitsyn (son of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn), mandated nine banks, three Western, one Chinese and five Russian, to, in their capacity as Joint Lead Managers and Joint Bookrunners, offer securities in dollars, maturing in 5 years , in order to make this increase feasible, which includes even greater training at its export ports.[26]

In the midst of this terrible scenario, there is two good news: in May 2021, the G7 declared that, as of 2022, it will no longer finance international projects of coal-fired thermoelectric plants and, in September, Xi Jinping also declared that the China will no longer fund similar projects outside its territory. Whether these statements will be confirmed by the facts remains to be seen. In any case, the loans already contracted are long-term and, in the case of China, these loans represent 40% of the US$ 42 billion already committed globally to coal between 2013 and 2019 in 18 countries particularly lacking in electrification: Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.[27] Finally, it is worth remembering that any CO2 emitted remains largely for millennia in the atmosphere and will continue to warm the atmosphere.

The corporate states

When it comes to the fossil fuel industry, there is no difference between banks and states. According to an April 2021 document from the Energy Policy Tracker, in just a 12-month period, the governments of the G20 committed public resources worth US$ 297,28 billion for the maintenance and addition of the fossil energy matrix, significantly more than the resources channeled to low-carbon renewable energies (US$ 234,36 billion).[28] In humanity's effort to abandon fossil fuels with the necessary sense of urgency, it would be up to the States to impose a new energy policy on the markets, including sustained investments of many trillions of dollars in low-carbon renewable energies and in the electrification of transport, an end to subsidies to fossil fuels (promised by the G20 since 2009…), transfer of these subsidies to low-carbon energies, increasing taxes on GHG emissions, trade barriers to countries that emit more, etc.

States are doing exactly the opposite of this and it is worth remembering here just one example: between 2017 and 2019, the G20 subsidized fossil fuels by an average of US$ 584 billion per year over these three years, through budget transfers, fiscal policies, subsidies tariffs, public finances and investments in its state-owned companies.[29] There are many and complex causes for the collusion of the States with the fossil fuel industry, but the first of them is simple: the States are the largest owners of the existing fossil fuel reserves in the earth's crust and are also among the largest controllers of the companies that operate them. explore, in addition to being heavily dependent on the revenue generated by this exploration.

This is what Ian Bremmer reported in a famous article in 2010 in the Wall Street Journal:[30] “The 13 largest energy companies on Earth, as measured by the reserves they control, are now owned and operated by states. Saudi Aramco, Gazprom (Russia), China National Petroleum Corp., National Iranian Oil Co., Petróleos de Venezuela, Petrobras (Brazil) and Petronas (Malaysia) are all bigger than ExxonMobil, the biggest multinational [in energy]. Collectively, multinational oil companies exploit just 10% of the world's oil and natural gas reserves. State companies now control more than 75% of all oil production.”

These proportions evoked by Ian Bremmer may vary over time and according to different criteria. For example, if the date is 2019 and if the criterion adopted is revenues (not reserves), four of the five largest oil and gas companies in the world are state-owned[31] (Sinopec, CNPC, PetroChina and Saudi Aramco) and total revenues of more than US$ 1,5 trillion.[32] If the criterion is production volume, of the ten largest oil companies in the world, eight are state-owned (Saudi Aramco, Rosneft, KPC, NIOC, CNPC, Petrobras, ADNOC and Pemex) and produce more than 30 million barrels of oil per day , about a third of global production in 2018.[33]

None of the different assessment criteria changes the fact that state corporations produce more than half of the world's oil and gas. Richard Heede, from Climate Accountability Institute, showed that between 1965 and 2017, the top 20 fossil fuel corporations contributed 480 GtCO2and or 35% of the emissions of more than 1.354 billion tons of CO2 and methane directly related to energy production. And the 12 state-owned companies in this sector contributed with 262,7 GtCO2and or 54,6% of emissions from this group of 20 majors, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4 – The 20 companies that contributed 480 Gigatons of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2e) or 35% of global emissions of 1.354 GtCO2ebetween 1965 and 2012, 12 of which were state-owned, with their respective contributions. Source: Matthew Taylor & Jonathan Watts, “Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions”. The Guardian, 9/X/2019, based on Richard Heede, Carbon Majors: Updating activity data, adding entities, & calculating emissions: A Training Manual, Climate Accountability Institute, Snowmass, Colorado, September 2019.

According to a 2021 report, these state-owned companies have projects in upstream investmentsof nearly US$ 2 trillion over this third decade of the century.[34] In addition to these investments, the States hold, in oil and gas reserves alone, assets of around US$ 3 trillion. Not by chance, therefore, despite their rhetoric and promises, the States are not only not leading the energy transition, but are betting on its delay in order to lose as little of their assets as possible.[35] As Fiona Harvey rightly states, as much as private multinationals, state-owned companies “have our climate in their hands”.[36] If its investment plans are carried out in the coming years (and in the absence of effective global governance, there is no authority to prevent them), the GHG emissions released into the atmosphere will blow the carbon budget still available to contain global warming in 2oC.

The limit for a warming of 1,5oC - 2oC was 2020

All projections on global warming in this decade and the next are clear and well known: the deadline for starting to reduce GHG emissions, in order to maintain a reasonable chance of containing global warming between 1,5oC and 2oC has passed: it was 2020. This consensus emerged with force in the scientific community between 2017 and 2019, starting with three IPCC leaders: Jean Jouzel, former vice president of the IPCC stated in 2017: “To maintain any chance of remaining below of the 2oC it is necessary that peak emissions be achieved no later than 2020”[37]. Thomas Stocker, co-director of the IPCC (2008-2015) said something similar in 2019: “The year 2020 is crucial for defining global ambitions on reducing emissions. If CO emissions2 continue to increase beyond that date, the most ambitious mitigation targets will become unattainable.”[38].

In turn, Hoesung Lee, current president of the IPCC, in his opening speech at COP25 in December 2019 warned diplomats and the world: “Our assessments show that stabilizing climate change requires that greenhouse gas emissions reach their peak next year, but emissions continue to grow, with no sign of inflection in the near future”.[39] To resolve possible doubts in this regard, Figure 5 shows the three final scenarios for safeguarding our climate (2016, 2020 and 2025), with 2025 considered too late.[40]

Figure 5 – Decline curves for CO emissions2 required to maintain global mean surface warming of the planet between 1,5oC and 2oC above the pre-industrial period, under the assumption of a carbon budget of 600 Gt, with scenarios of peak emissions in 2016, 2020 and 2025. Source: Christiana Figueres, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Gail Whiteman, Johan Rockström, Anthony Hobley & Stefan Rahmstorf, “Three years to safeguard our climate”. Nature, 29/VI/2017.

In the three scenarios, emissions should fall by around 50% (20 GtCO2) relative to 2017 levels around 2030. This means that they would then have to be at 1977 and 1955 levels in terms of per capita emissions.[41] As the authors rightly state, the scenario with peak emissions in 2025 “leaves too little time to transform the economy”.

On the other hand, if the carbon budget is 800 GtCO2 with a peak of emissions in 2020, a date of 2050 is obtained for net zero emissions (dotted line), but with “great risk of exceeding the threshold temperature”. levels of investment and financing of fossil fuel production already engaged since 2025. Each additional ton of GHG emitted after 2016 exponentially increases the chance of exceeding 2020oC, a level to be reached in the second quarter of this century, probably in the 2030s.[42]

As already stated at the beginning, according to the IPCC (2018), an organized society becomes unviable on a planet whose average temperatures exceed 2oC compared to the pre-industrial period. We have therefore maintained the current trajectory, no more than a decade to safeguard a minimum of existential security, starting with our food security: “By 2040, the proportion of global crops affected by severe droughts – equivalent to that suffered by Central Europe in 2018 (50% crop reduction) – will likely increase to 32% each year, more than triple the historical average.”[43]

Conclusion: the interdependence between climate and democracy

The 20 nations that make up the G20 are responsible for 75% of global GHG emissions and could limit global average warming by 1,7oC by the end of the century, according to a recent study by World Resources Institute.[44] Meeting once more in Glasgow in November, the G20 diplomats will not have the power to do so, even if, instead of entrenching themselves in defending national interests, they were able to unite in defense of our “Common Home”. Changing the thermo-fossil, expansive and globalized economic model that threatens us existentially would require the engagement of banks and large investors.

The problem is, they don't need us. Societies are not included in their plans. Money does not follow “green” governmental and corporate discourses, so that investments in the fossil fuel industry are, as seen, going from strength to strength. Therefore, if societies decide to react to the climate emergency, they will have to do so without the banks and, above all, against the banks. After more than four decades of incremental policy failures, it is important to understand that gradualism is not even slowing down global warming.

We now need systemic ruptures, at the civilizational level. To begin with, abandon the dogma of economic growth and the irrational parameters, including GDP, by which capitalism measures its performance. Here is the crux of the problem: we need to win the political battle for social control of investment decisions, whether by corporations or corporate states. And this social control of society's strategic resources can only be conquered through two simultaneous processes: (a) the radical democratization of the State, in particular with regard to decisions on investments in energy and food and (b) overcoming the axiom of absolute national sovereignty, in favor of democratic global governance. Democracy and climate are, in reality, two sides of the same coin.

Never, at least in the available historical records, has the Homo sapiens was at such a crucial crossroads and faced with such a complex challenge – political, scientific, philosophical and spiritual – as the one we face today. There are many reasons to feel discouraged, but there is a decisive reason to encourage us: overcoming this challenge still depends on our ability to understand, intellectually and emotionally, what is at stake. If we continue to delude ourselves with gradualisms, it will be too soon too late. As of the next decade, when average global warming is close (below or above) 2oC above the pre-industrial period, the planet that corporations and corporation-states have created will already be unrecognizable and terribly hostile to ours and countless other species. The feedback loops of global warming will then begin to decide our fate for us.[45]

* Luiz Cesar Marques Filho He is a professor at the Department of History at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). Coordinator of the MARE Project – Museum of Art for Education (


[1] See Nathaniel Rich, Losing Earth. A Recent History, New York, 2019: “Nearly everything we understand about global warming was understood in 1979.”

[2] Cf. Jule Charney (coord.), “Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A Scientific Assessment. Report of as Ad Hoc Study on Carbon Dioxide and Climate”. Woods Hole, Massachusetts, presented to the Climate Research Board, National Research Council, 23-27/1979/XNUMX.

[3]Cf. World Meteorological Organization (WMO), “A history of climate activities”. The 1979 World Climate Conference Declaration: “Having regard to the all-pervading influence of climate on human society and on many fields of human activities and endeavour, the Conference finds that it is now urgently necessary for the nations of the world (…) to foresee and prevent potential man-made changes in climate that might be adverse to the well-being of humanity”.

[4] Cf. “Congressional Testimony of Dr. James Hansen” (VI/23/1988): “the global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship to the greenhouse effect. (…) The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.”

[5] See The Changing Atmosphere. Implications for Global Security. Conference Statement, P. 292: “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war”.

[6] See if:>.

[7] The objective of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) or United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is defined in Article 2: “The ultimate objective of this Convention (…) is to achieve (…) the stabilization of concentrations of GHG in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This level must be achieved in a period of time sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”

[8] See IPCC (2018) – Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, PR Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, JBR Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, MI Gomis, E Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)] <>.

[9] Cf. JGJ Olivier & JAHW Peters, “Trends in Global CO2 and Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2020 Report”. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 20/XII/2020.

[10] The term CO2-equivalent (CO2-eq or CO2e) designates the set of greenhouse gas emissions (mainly CO2 + CH4 + N2O) measured as a function of the global warming potential of CO2.

[11] Cf. Olivier & Peters, cit. (2020): “In 2019, the growth in total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (excluding those from land-use change) continued at a rate of 1.1% (±1%). (…) “Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have increased, on average, by 1.1% per year, from 2012 to 2019. (…) The 2019 global GHG emissions excluding those from land-use change were about 59% higher than in 1990 and 44% higher than in 2000”.

[12]“Global energy-related CO2 emissions were 2% higher in December 2020 than in the same month a year earlier, according to IEA data, driven by economic recovery and a lack of clean energy policies”. AIE, 2/III/2021.


[13] On the obscure Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, see>.

[14] Cf. “Brazil, USA and Australia are accused of blocking progress at COP 25” and “COP 25: Brazil 'wins' Fossil of the Year award for environmental setbacks”. Capital letter, 13/XII/2019.

[15] Cf. Oliver Milman, “James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks, 'a fraud'”. The Guardian, 12/XII/2015.

[16]Cf. IEA, “Net Zero by 2050. A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector”, May 2021,3a review, July 2021: “there is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway”.

[17] Cf. “World Bank Annual Meeting: Bank invested over $10.5 billion in fossil fuels since Paris Agreement”. Urgewald, 12/X/2020.>.

[18]See Banking on Climate Chaos. Fossil Fuel Finance Report, 2021, Rainforest Action Network, Banktrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Sierra Club, Oil Change International and Reclaim Finance.


[19]Cf. Reclaim Finance, “Protecting the Arctic from Oil and Gas Expansion”. September 2021. For the full report, cf. Eren Can Ileri, Henri Her, Alix Mazounie & Lucie Pinson, Drill, Baby, Drill. How banks, investors and insurers are driving oil and gas expansion in the Arctic. September 2021, 24 p.m.


[20]Reclaim Finance, IX/2021: “From 2016 to 2020, commercial banks channeled $314 billion to Arctic expansionists in loans and underwriting. As of March 2021, investors held roughly $272 billion in those same companies in shares and bonds (…) 80% of all loans and underwriting to Arctic expansionists comes from just 30 banks”.

[21]On the importance of methane as a GHG, cf. Gavin Schmidt, “Methane: A Scientific Journey from Obscurity to Climate Super-Stardom”. Goddard Institute for Space Studies, September 2004; EM Herndon, “Permafrost slowly exhales methane”. Nature Climate Change, 8, 4, April 2018, pp. 273-274; Joshua F Dean et al.,“Methane Feedbacks to the Global Climate System in a Warmer World”. Reviews of Geophysics,56, 15/2018/XNUMX; Christian Knoblauch et al., “Methane production as key to the greenhouse gas budget of thawing permafrost”. Nature Climate Change, 8, 19/III/2018, pp. 309-312; Sara E. Mikaloff Fletcher & Hinrich Schaefer, “Rising methane: A new climate challenge”.  Science, 364, 6444, 7/VI/2019, pp. 932-933; Katrin Kohnert, “Strong geologic methane emissions from discontinuous terrestrial permafrost in the Mackenzie Delta, Canada.” Scientific Reports, 19/VII/2017.

[22] See Natalia Shakhova et al., “Current rates and mechanisms of subsea permafrost degradation in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf”. Nature Communications, 22/2017/XNUMX; Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov & Evgeny Chuvilin, “Understanding the Permafrost–Hydrate System and Associated Methane Releases in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf”. Geosciences, 9, 6, 251, 2019; Peter Wadhams,  A Farewell to ice. A Report from the Arctic. London, 2016; Luiz Marques, “Climate Feedbacks and Tipping Points”. Chapter 8 of Capitalism and Environmental Collapse, Springer, 2020, pp. 199 – 232.

[23] An underwriting refers to the process by which banks raise investments for companies by issuing bonds or shares in their name and selling them to investors such as pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds, etc.

[24]Cf. Urgewald (with collaboration from Reclaim Finance, Rainforest Action Network, Japan and 25 other NGO partners), “Groundbreaking Research Reveals the Financiers of the Coal Industry”. 25/II/2021; Cecilia Jamasmie, “World's two largest asset managers have invested $170 bn in coal”. Mining(dot)com.

[25]Cf. Yelena Solovyova & Vladimir Slivyak, “Race to the Bottom. Consequences of massive coal mining for the environment and public health of Kemerovo Region”. Environmental Group Ecodefense, 2021, p. 4.

[26]These are Bank of America and Citi from the USA, Commerzbank from Germany, Bank of China and five Russian banks: Alfa Bank, Gazprombank, Renaissance Capital, SberCIB and VTB Capital. Cf. Urgewald, Banktrack, “Commerzbank, Citi and Bank of America among banks issuing new deal for Russian coal giant SUEK just two month before COP26”, 9/IX/2021.

[27]Cf. “Coal Power Finance in High Impact Countries”. Sustainable Energy for All & Climate Policy Initiative, IX/2021.>.

[28]See Energy Policy Tracker, “Track public money for energy in recovery packages”, 7/IV/2021.


[29] See  Doubling Back and Doubling Down. G20 scorecard on fossil fuel funding, IISD, Oil Change, November 2020: “G20 governments provided $584 billion1 annually (2017–2019 average) via direct budgetary transfers and tax expenditure, price support, public finance, and State-Owned Enterprises investment for the production and consumption of fossil fuels at home and abroad”.

[30]See Ian Bremmer, “The Long Shadow of the Visible Hand”. The Wall Street Journal, 22/V/2010: “the 13 largest energy companies on Earth, measured by the reserves they control, are now owned and operated by governments. Saudi Aramco, Gazprom (Russia), China National Petroleum Corp., National Iranian Oil Co., Petróleos de Venezuela, Petrobras (Brazil) and Petronas (Malaysia) are all larger than ExxonMobil, the largest of the multinationals. Collectively, multinational oil companies produce just 10% of the world's oil and gas reserves. State-owned companies now control more than 75% of all crude oil production”.

[31]Here follows the definition of “state-owned” proposed by Richard Heede, from the Climate Accountability Institute, companies in which more than 50% of the quotas belong or are controlled by a State.Cf. Richard Heede, Carbon Majors. Updating activity data, adding entities, & calculating emissions: A Training Manual. Climate Accountability Institute, 2019: “Many state-owned companies are partially owned by individual and institutional shareholders. These include Equinor, Petrobras, and Gazprom, and are considered state-owned if more than fifty percent of shares are controlled by the state. Equinor (formerly Statoil) is 67% owned by the Norwegian government, Petrobras is 64% owned by the government of Brazil, and Gazprom is 50.003% owned by the Russian Federation. In the coal sector, Coal India is 78% owned by the government”.

[32] See OffShore, “Top ten oil and gas companies in 2020”, 20/X/2020.


[33] Cf. OffShore, cit., 14/V/2019.>.

[34]Cf. “National Oil Companies and Climate Change”. National Resource Governance Institute & International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Seminar, 21/2021/2: “National oil companies (NOCs) wield a major influence over the fight against climate change: they produce more than half of the world's oil and gas and are projected to spend almost $XNUMX trillion on upstream projects over the next decade”.

[35]See Amanda Morrow, "World's state-owned oil companies are 'betting on missing climate goals'". RFI, 10/II/2021.

[36] See Fiona Harvey, “Secretive national oil companies hold our climate in their hands”. The Guardian, 9/X/2019.

[37]Quoted by Pierre Le Hir, “Réchauffement climatique: la bataille des 2oC est presque perdue.” Le Monde, 31/XII/2017.

[38] See if 2020 The Climate Turning Point<>.

[39] Cf. Opening of COP25, 2/XII/2019 Statement by IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee: “Our assessments show that climate stabilization implies that greenhouse gas emissions must start to peak from next year. But emissions are continuing to increase, with no sign of peaking soon”.>.

[40]Christiana Figueres, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Gail Whiteman, Johan Rockström, Anthony Hobley & Stefan Rahmstorf, “Three years to safeguard our climate”. Nature, 29/VI/2017.

[41] Cf. Gregg Marland, Tom Oda & Thomas A. Boden, “Per capita carbon emissions must fall to 1955 levels”. Nature, 565, 7741, 2019, p. 567: “In 1977, when the global population was 4.23 billion, emissions per capita were 1.19 tonnes of carbon per person. By 2017, this had increased to 1.34 tonnes (the global population that year was 7.55 billion). So, decreasing total emissions to the 1977 figure will mean returning per capita emissions to those recorded for 1955”.

[42]Cf. Michael Mann,Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036”. ScientificAmerican, 1/IV/2014.

[43]See Daniel Quigginet al., “Climate Change Risk Assessment 2021”. Chatham House, September 2021: “By 2040, the proportion of global cropland affected by severe drought – equivalent to that experienced in Central Europe in 2018 (50% yield reductions) – will likely rise to 32% each year, more than three times the historic average”.

[44]Cf. “Closing the gap. The impact of G20 commitments on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5oW". WRI, September 2021.

[45]See Will Steffen et al., “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene”. PNAS, 6/2018/XNUMX.


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