A new analysis finds that burning the world’s proven reserves of fossil fuels would emit more emissions to warm the planet than since the Industrial Revolution, easily destroying the remaining carbon budget before societies experience catastrophic global warming.
3.5 trillion tons of greenhouse gas emissions would be emitted if governments allowed the extraction and use of specific reserves of coal, oil and gas, according to what has been described as the first public database of fossil fuel production.
The database, which covers about three quarters of global energy production, reveals that the United States and Russia Each has enough fossil fuel reserves to eliminate the world’s remaining carbon budget on their own before the planet turns 1.5°C (2.7°F) or more warm than in the pre-industrial era.
Of all countries, there are enough fossil fuels to blow this remaining budget seven times, pushing people and ecosystems into catastrophic heat waves, floods, droughts, and other impacts. Never before in human history. Governments agreed to limit global heating to 1.5°C but largely refused to halt leases of new fossil fuels or their extraction.
Marc Campanile, founder of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, which is launching the new edition Global fossil fuel record With Global Energy Monitor on Monday.
“It’s like a country declaring that they are on a climate change diet and that they are going to eat salad for lunch and then sneak back into their office and make their way through a box of donuts,” he said. “Don’t go on a diet if you’re stuffing your face with cake, but that’s what happens with countries and their developers of fossil fuels.”
In order for the world to have an equal chance of avoiding 1.5°C or more of global warming, scientists have estimated that the world could only emit an additional 400 to 500 billion tons of greenhouse gases. This would include Emissions cut drastically by about half this decade before they are completely eliminated by mid-century.
However, the United States alone has the potential to emit 577 billion tons of emissions, mostly coal, through its known reserves of fossil fuels. While Joe Biden was president of America The first ever climate change legislation Pledging to address what he called an “existential threat to humanity,” his administration has continued to offer leases for oil and gas exploration, including In the vast expanses of the Gulf of Mexicothe site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster for BP.
Of these reserves, 27 billion tons of emissions are due to be released from approved US projects already under development, which include 33.2 billion barrels of oil, according to the database.
Meanwhile, Russia has enough fossil fuels to emit 490 billion tons of greenhouse gases, and is currently developing projects that are set to emit 11 billion tons. ChinaIndia and Australia all have enough fossil fuel reserves to push the world to the brink of climate collapse.
While countries agreed in the 2015 Paris climate accords to limit global warming, three decades of international talks have yielded no commitment to actually reducing the main cause of the climate emergency – the burning of fossil fuels. At last year’s UN talks in Glasgow, disagreements between diplomats led to the results Promise to “phase down”but not outside, the use of charcoal.
“Countries like to talk about emissions, and they don’t want to talk about fossil fuels,” Campanile said. “Emissions from using fossil fuels and you can’t do anything about emissions until you actually come to a conclusion about what you’re going to do about fossil fuels.
“When we’re in a situation where you have two, three, four times more fossil fuels in development for the remaining carbon budget, that tells you the policy is slightly asynchronous. It’s basically asynchronous.”
Many large companies are going ahead under the assumption of expanding the use of fossil fuels, despite government commitments. in May, Guardian revealed There are nearly 200 “carbon bomb” projects on trains around the world, run by companies like Exxon, BP and Shell, that would result in at least a billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions over their lifetime. Private equity firms, too, continue to Injecting billions of dollars into this sector.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine exacerbated this situation by raising oil and gas prices and prompting European leaders to seek to expand gas imports from around the world. Campanale said new gas import facilities “risk becoming stuck” as they have been replaced by cheap renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, leading investors to increase pressure on companies to embrace a greener future more quickly to avoid a financial downturn.
This pressure is mounting. More than 200 health organizations, including the World Health Organization, called last week For a global fossil fuel “non-proliferation” treaty and upcoming UN climate talks in Egypt will see activists urging countries to end issuing mining leases.
But Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, cautioned that the pace of the energy transition is not fast enough, with global emissions. Already back to pre-pandemic levels. Recent heat waves in Europe, the United States and China, in addition to catastrophic floods in pakistan It is “the price of humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels,” Guterres said.
“The current fossil fuels that are free for all must end now,” the UN Secretary-General added. “It’s a recipe for permanent climate chaos and suffering.”