First Public World Database of Fossil Fuels Launches

    21 September 2022

    A database that follows the world's fossil fuel production, reserves, and release of carbon launched on Monday.

    The launch comes out at the same time as two important climate talks happening at the international level. One is the climate talks at the United Nation's General Assembly in New York which began on September 13. The other is COP27 in Sharm El Skeikh which begins in November.

    The database is called The Global Registry of Fossil Fuels. It includes data from over 50,000 oil, gas, and coal fields in 89 countries. That covers 75 percent of the world's reserves, production, and release of carbon into the atmosphere. And it is available for public use, a first for a collection of this size.

    FILE - A man pushes a stroller near the AES power plant in Redondo Beach, California on September 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
    FILE - A man pushes a stroller near the AES power plant in Redondo Beach, California on September 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

    Until now, there has been private data available for purchase, and research of the world's fossil fuel usage and reserves. The International Energy Agency also keeps public data on oil, gas, and coal. But it centers on the demand for those fossil fuels.

    This new database, however, looks at what is yet to be burned. The information could help environmental groups to pressure leaders for stronger policies reducing the amount of carbon they release.

    The database was developed by Carbon Tracker. It is a nonprofit organization that researches changes in energy use and their effects on financial markets. Global Energy Monitor also helped develop the database. It is an organization that follows different energy projects around the world.

    Mark Campanale is a founder of Carbon Tracker. He said he hopes the database will empower groups to hold governments accountable.

    Campanale said that civil groups need to have more information on what governments are planning to do in terms of giving permits for coal, oil, and gas. He said they need to, "... actually begin to challenge this permitting process."

    He added that it is very important that the world reduces carbon output.

    Carbon Tracker research

    In the research, Carbon Tracker found that the United States and Russia still have enough underground and unused fossil fuel to go over the world's remaining amount of carbon budget. The carbon budget is the point at which the world will go over the set amount of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

    Campanale said investors and shareholders should be holding the world's largest fossil fuel companies responsible when they approve new fuel mining projects. Campanale said the hope is the investment community will use the data to begin to challenge the investment plans of companies still planning to expand oil, gas, and coal projects.

    Rob Jackson is a Stanford University climate scientist who was not involved with the database research. He added, "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."

    I'm Gregory Stachel.

    Drew Costley reported this story for The Associated Press. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    reserve n. a supply of something that is stored so that it can be used at a later time

    accountable adj. required to be responsible for something

    challenge v. to say or show that (something) may not be true, correct, or legal

    extract v. to remove (something) by pulling it out or cutting it out