Data Reveals Oil and Gas Emissions Are Three Times Higher Than Reported

Data Reveals Oil and Gas Emissions Are Three Times Higher Than Reported

A new report by Climate TRACE and unveiled at COP27 reveals that half of the 50 largest oil and gas operators are underreporting their greenhouse gas emissions. Altogether, inaccuracies across the industry means that emissions are about three times higher than producers claim.

The inventory included in the Climate TRACE report used sophisticated technology including satellite observations and artificial intelligence to consider 72,612 sites in the power sector -- rather than relying on the self-reported data required under the current UN convention’s framework -- and thus provides a more comprehensive picture of the issue at hand.

According to former Vice President and Climate TRACE founding member Al Gore, this data has enormous impact potential and can inform policymakers. "We want some national governments who are committed to really getting serious about emissions cuts to come away from it thinking oh, now we know where we need to prioritize our attention," he told Axios.

Guardian: Global leaders have a climate 'credibility problem’, says Al Gore at COP27, November 7, 2022.

Climate TRACE: Using AI & satellites to spot every source of GHG emissions on Earth | Collision Conference 2022, June 29, 2022.

Why This Matters

Though countries and companies are increasingly committing to net-zero emissions targets, very few are actually taking action. The World Bank, for instance, previously pledged to end all upstream oil and gas funding, but loopholes in the climate action plan have allowed the institution to funnel $14.8 billion into fossil fuel projects and policies through indirect investment.

Our Changing Climate: Why Companies Need to Greenwash, February 11, 2022.

DW: Banks increase funding for fossil fuels despite 'net zero' pledges, February 15, 2022.

Now This: Sheldon Whitehouse on Greenwashing and Fossil Fuel Industry, May 14, 2021.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects that the country’s natural gas output will hit record highs in 2022. Though the EU spent €12.5 billion between 2014 and 2020 to help coal producing regions transition to clean energy, many countries within the bloc have rolled back commitments to end coal use by 2030 in response to the current energy crisis. Soaring profits have prompted many to push for a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies to pay the world’s poorest countries for climate-related "loss and damage.”

PBS: Oil companies post massive profits as consumers feel squeeze from high gas prices, November 1, 2022.

Bloomberg: Europe’s Energy Nightmare Has Only Just Begun, November 8, 2022.

CBS: Nations debate climate reparations at COP27, November 10, 2022.

Guardian: 'Polluters must pay’ | UN secretary general calls for global windfall tax on energy companies, September 20, 2022.

NBC: Low Income Countries Bear Brunt Of Climate Change,September 23, 2022.

Greenwashing Gets Global Attention

The issue is taking center stage at COP27. A group of environmental and finance experts is aiming to combat net-zero greenwashing by outlining "red lines” for non-state actors -- a report produced by the group suggests ten recommendations for actionable targets, which include the mandatory disclosure of near-term emissions reduction plans across all scopes. At the same time, the island nation of Tuvalu is pushing for an international Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to stop the expansion of new fossil fuel development and create new routes for renewable energy.

Stricter guidelines to ensure countries and companies are acting on net-zero goals can be outlined on an international level -- but they must be implemented on a national level. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres explans:

A growing number of governments and [companies] are pledging to be carbon free -- and that’s good news. The problem is that the criteria and benchmarks for these net zero commitments have varying levels of rigour and loopholes wide enough to drive a diesel truck through. We must have zero tolerance for net zero greenwashing.

Source: The Guardian, October 27, 2022.

Source: The Guardian, July 21, 2022.

The Independent: UN secretary Guterres's COP27 opening speech on fossil fuel and Ukraine war, November 7, 2022.

Foreign Policy Association: US Senator Debunks "The Big Lie" of the Fossil Fuel Industry, April 22, 2022.

VICE: The Secret Ways The Oil Industry Brainwashes You | Smog + Mirrors, April 22, 2022.

NBC: Are Major Companies Living Up To Their Net-Zero Pledges To Combat Climate Change?, February 10, 2022.

Democracy Now!: Bill McKibben: Latest IPCC Climate Report Underscores "Fossil Fuel Is at the Root of Our Problem”, April 7, 2022.

Grantham Imperial: Dr Friederike Otto speaks to CNN's Connect the World about the extreme heat, 18 July 2022, July 19, 2022.

WW0 COP26 Talks: President of Palau, Surangel Whipps Jr., November 5, 2021.

TED: Fossil fuel companies know how to stop global warming. Why don’t they? | Myles Allen, December 4, 2020.