3.5 trillion tons of carbon dioxide in global fossil fuel reserves

(Paris) The world’s fossil fuel reserves contain the equivalent of 3.5 trillion tons of greenhouse gases, which would be released if used and undermine international climate goals, according to an unprecedented inventory published Monday.

Posted at 7:07 pm.

This massive amount corresponds to what would be released into the atmosphere if all the oil, gas and coal reserves were produced and used, according to this global record created by Carbon Tracker and Global Energy Monitor.

This equates to “more than all emissions since the Industrial Revolution” and “more than seven times the carbon budget remaining to meet the 1.5°C temperature limit,” the authors say. This carbon “budget” concept refers to the amount of carbon dioxide2 which can be issued for a particular outcome, in this case the more ambitious goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The warming since the industrial age, which was fueled by fossil fuels, has already reached 1.1 degrees Celsius, which has led to a series of disasters.

The International Energy Agency had proposed last year to abandon any new oil or gas project to keep pace with a rapid decline in demand and to keep global warming under control.

The registry – which contains data on more than 50,000 sites in 89 countries – aims to provide political leaders and civil society with the data needed to manage the phase-out of this fossil fuel.

Notably, the ledger shows that both the US and Russia have enough fossil fuel reserves to blow up the entire global carbon budget, even if all other countries halt production immediately. It also identifies the world’s most powerful emitter: the Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia.

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Simon Covey, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu, emphasized that “the global record will help governments, companies and investors make decisions to align their production of fossil fuels with the 1.5-degree temperature limit, thereby preventing the measurable disappearance of our islands,” one of the Pacific archipelagos threatened by rising waters and global warming.

“We now have a tool that can effectively help end coal, oil and gas production,” he hopes, in a statement accompanying the registry release.

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