Launch of the first public global fossil fuel database

Launch of the first public global fossil fuel database

A one-of-a-kind database for monitoring global fossil fuel production, reserves and emissions will be launched on Monday in conjunction with climate talks at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The Global Fossil Fuel Registry includes data from more than 50,000 oil, gas and coal fields in 89 countries. It covers 75% of global reserves, production and emissions and is available for public use, the first for a collection of this size.

Until now, private data was available for the purchase and analysis of the global use and reserves of fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency also maintains public data on oil, gas and coal, but focuses on the demand for those fossil fuels as this new database examines what has yet to be burned.

The register was developed by Carbon Tracker, a non-profit think tank that researches the effect of the energy transition on financial markets, and the Global Energy Monitor, an organization that tracks a variety of energy projects around the world. .

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

“Civil society groups need to focus more on what governments are planning to do in terms of licensing, for both coal and oil and gas, and actually start challenging this licensing process,” he said. Campanale to the Associated Press.

The release of the database and an accompanying analysis of the collected data coincide with two critical series of climate talks at the international level: the United Nations General Assembly in New York starting on 13 September and the COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, in Egypt, in November. Data such as those being released on the register could prompt environmental and climate groups to pressure national leaders to accept stronger policies that result in lower carbon emissions.

And we are in dire need of carbon reductions, Campanale said.

In their data analysis, the developers found that the United States and Russia have enough untapped fossil fuels still underground to deplete the world’s remaining carbon budget. This is the remaining carbon that the world can afford to emit before a certain amount of warming occurs, in this case 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also shows that these reserves would generate 3.5 trillion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all the emissions produced by the industrial revolution.

“We already have enough extractable fossil fuels to cook the planet. We can’t afford to use all or almost any of them at this point. We ran out of time to build new things the old way, ”said Rob Jackson, a Stanford University climate scientist who was not involved with the database.

“I like the emphasis on transparency in fossil fuel production and reserves, right down to specific projects. This is a unique aspect of the work ”.

Jackson compared the global carbon balance to a bathtub.

“You can only run the water so long before the tub overflows,” he said. When the vat is about to overflow, he said, governments can turn down the tap (mitigating greenhouse gas emissions) or open the vat’s drain more (removing carbon from the atmosphere).

The database shows that we have far more carbon than we need as a global community, Campanale said, and more than enough to overflow the bathtub and flood the bathroom in Jackson’s analogy. So investors and shareholders should hold the decision makers of the world’s largest oil, gas and coal companies accountable when approving new investments in fossil fuel mining, she said.

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

“Companies like Shell and Exxon, Chevron and their shareholders can use analytics to really start trying to push companies to move in a completely different direction.”


Follow Drew Costley on Twitter: @drewcostley.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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