First public global database of fossil fuels launches

First public global database of fossil fuels launches

A first-of-its-kind database for tracking the world’s fossil fuel production, reserves and emissions launches on Monday to coincide with climate talks taking place at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The Global Registry of Fossil Fuels includes data from over 50,000 oil, gas and coal fields in 89 countries. That covers 75% of global reserves, production and emissions, and is available for public use, a first for a collection of this size. Until now, there was private data that could be purchased and used to analyze the global fossil fuel use and reserve. Although the International Energy Agency has public data about oil, gas, and coal, it only focuses on demand, while this database focuses more on what remains to be burnt.

The registry was created by Carbon Tracker (a non-profit think tank) and the Global Energy Monitor (an organization that monitors a wide range of energy projects across the globe.

Corporations, investors and scientists already have some level of access to private data on fossil fuels. Mark Campanale, founder of Carbon Tracker, said he hopes the registry will empower groups to hold governments accountable, for example, when they issue licenses for fossil fuel extraction.

“Civil Society Groups need to pay more attention to what governments plan to do regarding license issuance for both coal and oil, in order to actually challenge the permitting process,” Campanale said to The Associated Press.

The release of the database and an accompanying analysis of the collected data coincide with two critical sets of climate talks at the international level — the U.N. General Assembly in New York beginning on September 13, and COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in November. Data like what’s being released in the registry could arm environmental and climate groups to pressure national leaders to agree to stronger policies that result in less carbon emissions.

We are in desperate need of carbon cuts, Campanale stated.

Based on their data analysis, developers discovered that Russia and the United States have sufficient fossil fuel left untapped to eliminate the remaining carbon budget. That’s the remaining carbon the world can afford to emit before a certain amount of warming occurs, in this case 1. 5 degrees Celsius. It also shows these reserves would generate 3. 5 trillion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all of the emissions produced since the Industrial Revolution.

” We already have sufficient fossil fuels available to heat the earth. They are all too expensive, or nearly impossible to afford. We’ve run out of time to build new things in old ways,” said Rob Jackson, a Stanford University climate scientist who was not involved with the database.

” I like that there is transparency about fossil fuel production, reserves and projects. That’s a unique aspect to the work.”

Jackson compared the global carbon budget to a bathtub.

“You can run water only so long before the tub overflows,” he said. He said that governments have two options when the tub is nearing its limit: turn off the water supply (mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions), or allow the drain to open more, which will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The database shows we have more carbon than the world needs, Campanale stated. It is enough for the tub to fill up and the toilets will flood in Jackson’s example. He said that shareholders and investors should hold decision-makers at the largest fossil fuel companies responsible for approving new investment plans.

Campanale said the hope is the investment community, “who ultimately own these corporations,” will use the data to begin to challenge the investment plans of companies still planning to expand oil, gas and coal projects.

“Companies like Shell and Exxon, Chevron and their shareholders can use the analysis to to really begin to try and push the companies to move in a completely different direction.”


Follow Drew Costley on Twitter: @drewcostley.


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