Sept. 19 (BP) — Burning the world’s fossil fuel reserves could emit about 3.5 trillion tons of greenhouse gases, according to a new analysis.
Carbon Tracker Initiative, with data support from Global Energy Monitor, developed and launched on Monday the Global Registry of Fossil Fuels — what the group described as the “first-ever fully transparent, public database” that tracks fossil fuel production and global impact.
Extracting and using all identified reserves of coal, oil and gas would emit more global warming emissions than all that have been released into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution, an analysis of data from the registry shows.
The database shows that Russia and the United States each have enough fossil fuel reserves to raise the temperature of the planet by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that the United Nations and climate scientists worldwide has said passing would lead to catastrophic climate change effects.
The United States has the potential to release 577 billion tons of emissions, mostly from coal.
“You’ve got governments issuing new licenses or permits for coal that are completely decoupled from their own climate commitments,” Mark Campanale, founder of Carbon Tracker Initiative, told The Guardian.
The database shows that about 27 billion tons of emissions that the United States has the potential to release come from fossil fuel projects that are already being developed.
“It’s like a country announcing that they’re going on a climate change diet and they’re going to eat salad for lunch and then sneaking back to their office and working their way through a box of donuts,” he said.
“You’re not on a diet if you’re stuffing your face with donuts, but that’s what’s happening with countries and their developers of fossil fuels.”
Russia, before the war in Ukraine, was a major supplier of oil and gas — particularly to most of Europe. Even as countries move away from dependency on Russian fossil fuels, Moscow has identified enough that would release 490 billion tons of greenhouse gases.
The maximum amount of global carbon dioxide emissions that would result in limiting climate change to that 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit temperature is known as the carbon budget. The database shows enough fossil fuel reserves have been identified worldwide to blow the remaining budget seven times over.
“Countries like to talk about emissions, they don’t want to talk about fossil fuels,” Campanale said.
“Emissions are from the use of fossil fuels and you can’t do anything about emissions until you’ve actually come to a conclusion about what you’re going to do about fossil fuels.”