Launch of the Global Fossil Fuel Registry

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A database to track global fossil fuel production, reserves and emissions was launched on September 19, coinciding with climate talks taking place at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly At New York.

Jointly developed by Carbon Tracker, an independent financial think tank, and the Global Energy Monitor, which tracks global energy projects, the Global Fossil Fuel Registry is the first open source database that translates fossil fuel reserves and production data into greenhouse gas emissions expressed in CO2 equivalents. It was built using data from over 50,000 fields in 89 countries, which covers approximately 75% of global reserves, production and emissions.

It is available for public use, a first for a collection of this size, according to Carbon Tracker, and provides an interactive database and dashboard to help governments make decisions to align their fossil fuel production with the the 1.5°C temperature target of the Paris Agreement. It will also allow investors, civil society and other stakeholders to assess production decisions in the context of climate policies.

Private data was previously available for purchase to analyze global fossil fuel use and reserves, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) maintains public data on oil, gas and coal, but it focuses on fuel demand.

By demonstrating the magnitude of CO2 Combined with each country’s national reserves and production, the ledger tracks what has not yet been burned and can help investors understand which assets are at risk of being stranded as the energy transition evolves.

Stranded assets are now generally accepted as those assets which, at some point before the end of their economic life (depending on the timing of the investment decision), no longer generate economic returns due to changes such lower-than-expected demand or prices.

Carbon Tracker said that for potential new investments, its research aims to prevent stranded assets “by identifying where capital expenditures can be directed to investments that may not produce expected returns as the world decarbonizes.” Our goal is therefore to advance the energy transition through the management of capital, with the intention of preventing it from being wasted.

Is the methodology sound and is it the best approach?

Carbon Tracker, a nonprofit, was launched in 2011 and has since gained traction as a recognized name in emissions quantification, including citations in some OnePetro articles. He has been involved in other projects such as the development by Trafigura and Palantir Technologies of a platform to calculate carbon intensity in the supply chain through his involvement in the Science-Based Targets initiative.

The emissions methodology is based on the range of constants provided by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fossil fuel combustion process; IEA and OPGEE crude oil and gas data for supply chain emissions; and the database of coal mines built by Global Energy Monitor, according to the register’s website. OPGEE is the Petroleum Production Greenhouse Gas Estimator, an engineering-based life cycle assessment tool that applies from initial exploration through refinery entry.

But is this the best approach when it is expected that hydrocarbons will be needed until at least 2050 for global energy needs? The potential withdrawal of funding for continued production may have corollary effects.

The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), the umbrella organization for many climate finance initiatives, has reduced the focus on funded emissions in its recent guidance on financial institutions’ net zero transition plans: “A narrow focus on financed emissions in setting and measuring targets could provide an incentive to select low-emission assets and customers, as this would reduce a financial institution‘s footprint quickly and in a way that established accounting methodologies exist. However, such an approach does not guarantee that portfolio assets and customers are aligned on a 1.5°C trajectory or that emissions in the real economy are reduced. Globally, this approach diverts capital from high-emissions portfolio companies and clients who need capital and other services to enable their transition to net zero. »

GFANZ highlighted the importance of funding emissions reductions, as well as supporting businesses that may be carbon intensive today but have a plan to transition to net zero.

The energy transition is rich in opinions, demands from various actors and very varied objectives. No one measurement or metric will be the definitive answer for everyone – one size does not fit all. The Global Registry can be useful as an additional tool to help understand the complexity of a global transition for which there are no hard and fast rules.

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