The United Nations estimates that Earth’s remaining carbon budget – the amount of pollution we can add to the atmosphere before the 1.5°C (2.7°F) temperature goal of the Paris Agreement is missed – to be around 360 billion tons of CO2 equivalent.
Igniting the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves would unleash 3.5 trillion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all of the emissions produced since the Industrial Revolution.
‘We already have enough extractable fossil fuels to cook the planet. We can’t afford to use them all – or almost any of them at this point,’ said Rob Jackson, a Stanford University climate scientist.
‘We’ve run out of time to build new things in old ways.’
The registry, developed by Carbon Tracker and Global Energy Monitor, includes data from over 50,000 oil, gas, and coal fields in 89 countries – covering 75 percent of global reserves, production, and emissions.
Of the 50,000 fields covered by the registry, the most main source of emissions is the Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia, which produces roughly 525 million tons of carbon emissions each year.
Meanwhile, US coal reserves embed 520 billion tons of CO2 equivalent, and China, Russia, and Australia all hold enough reserves to miss 1.5°C.
‘The Global Registry will make governments and companies more accountable for their development of fossil fuels by enabling civil society to link production decisions with national climate policies,’ said Mark Campanale, founder of Carbon Tracker and Chair of the Registry Steering Committee.
‘Companies like Shell and Exxon, Chevron and their shareholders can use the analysis to really begin to try and push the companies to move in a completely different direction,’ he added.
The launch of the Global Registry of Fossil Fuels shares the timeline with climate talks taking place at the United Nations General Assembly in New York today.
Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: ‘The science is crystal clear. The transition away from fossil fuel-powered economies is critical to the survival of people and the planet.
‘For this to happen we need to deploy every solution in our toolbox to decarbonize our economies.
‘The Global Registry of Fossil Fuels is an important step in providing insights to policymakers and investors as we embark on a just transition away from fossil fuels.’