Climate TRACE has published a data inventory tracking every major source of global carbon emissions, encouraging climate change accountability while also offering companies a resource to accurately track supply chain impact.
The data was unveiled at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates by former United States Vice President Al Gore and environmental tech non-profit WattTime’s Gavin McCormick, where Gore criticized the host nation’s role in the UN climate summit. At the same time, news reports said COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber downplayed the role of phasing out fossil fuels in meeting international net-zero goals.
The Climate TRACE tool is now able to track emissions from over 352 million assets, including facilities such as oil refineries, steel mills, and power plants, as well as activities such as deforestation and fertilizer use. By using satellite information, remote sensing, and artificial intelligence, the program can provide emissions data that go unreported in traditional inventories, specifically helping corporations that are working to decarbonize their operations.
“Leaders from the public and private sectors can now do what’s never been possible before,” said Gore, a Climate TRACE co-founder. “They can look clearly at the causes of the climate crisis all the way down to the individual source. They can pinpoint where to take action almost immediately. With this inventory at our fingertips, there’s no longer a valid excuse for anyone — businesses, governments, or otherwise — to turn a blind eye to the work that must be done to slash emissions significantly and quickly.”
Data Emphasizes Urgency of Reducing Emissions, Targets Countries Most Responsible
Climate TRACE’s new data release unveiled specific findings at COP28, calling countries most responsible for continued emissions to urgently pursue targeted climate action.
One such finding was the amount of emissions released since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2016 — emissions have increased by 8.6% since then, with a 1.5% increase from 2021 to 2022. Meanwhile, the United Nations currently estimates that the world must reduce emissions by at least 42% by 2030 in order to meet the 1.5-degree pathway established by the Paris Agreement.
According to a Reuters report, Gore used these figures in a presentation at COP28 to call out actions of oil giants including the UAE, which saw emissions rise by 7.5% in 2022. Many parties have also reported skepticism about the COP28 president selection of Al Jaber, as he is currently CEO of major oil company Adnoc.
In addition to these statistics, the data platform also found that since 2015, the majority of global emissions increases have come from energy use in China, electricity production in India, and oil and gas production in the U.S. Altogether, these contributors account for about half of the overall emissions increases since 2015.
Climate TRACE Spotlights Presence of Oil and Gas Companies at COP28
With data from the Climate TRACE platform as well as many other sources that reveal the increasing impact of fossil fuels on the environment, fossil fuel companies present at the conference have been questioned and criticized for their role in the crisis, Al Jaber included.
According to a Guardian report, Al Jaber claimed fossil fuel phase-outs are not needed to restrict global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, also stating that doing so would “take the world back into caves.” He said in the report that data doesn’t back up the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels to meet the climate change targets.
“I’m not in any way signing up to any discussion that is alarmist,” he said in the Guardian. “There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C.”
Scientists cited in the report considered his comments to be “verging on climate denial.”
More than 100 countries have expressed support for a phase-out of fossil fuels as a method of limiting the worsening effects of climate change. Meanwhile, many fossil fuel companies have leaned heavily on the promotion of carbon capture, a comparatively new and costly technology, as a justification for continued development.