SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — A detailed inventory of major known sources of greenhouse gas emitters launched by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore at the United Nations climate summit in Egypt on Wednesday has revealed that the top 14 individual polluters are all from gas and oil fields and their associated facilities, although their emissions are “grossly under-reported”.
The inventory was compiled by Climate TRACE, a coalition of researchers, data analysts and non-governmental organizations that use multiple open sources, including satellite coverage, remote sensing and artificial intelligence, to track exactly who pollutes and how much.
Emissions from oil and gas production were already estimated to be around double what was reported to the UN last year and new data on methane leaks and flaring suggest emissions are likely three times higher than reported, Gore said. Methane is a greenhouse gas about 80 times more potent in the short term than carbon dioxide.
Gore said the data shows the scale of the “deep reduction in greenhouse gas pollution we need to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis”.
Welcoming the launch of the inventory, the UN secretary-general said the data was vital to solving a problem “before our eyes, but also hidden in plain sight”.
“We have huge gaps in emissions, funding, adaptation. But these gaps cannot be effectively filled without filling data gaps. After all, it is impossible to effectively manage and control what we cannot measure,” said Antonio Guterres.
Some 56 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions were produced in 2021, and the Permian Basin led the emitters with more than 200 million tonnes, according to the data. Russia’s Urengoyskoye gas field was second on the list with 152 million tonnes.
Gavin McCormick, co-founder of Climate TRACE, said he estimated greenhouse gas emissions from nearly all of the world’s largest emitters.
McCormick added that climate negotiators and others working on climate change have described the data as “a game changer that can help them make better decisions and decarbonize faster.”
The stocktaking was released as climate negotiators meet in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt for two weeks to seek ways to implement global climate goals. The conference focuses on several thorny issues, including how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost financing for poor countries grappling with the impacts of climate change.
Al Gore said the world could cut emissions by 50% by the end of this decade and reach net zero by 2050, with the help of technologies now available.
“We are able to solve this crisis because once the world reaches true net zero, temperatures will stop rising in as little as three to five years,” he said.
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