• A new set of previously unrecorded fossil fuel and emissions data is set to be released by a technology and academic coalition backed by Al Gore.
  • The information uses data from satellites and high-level computer analysis.
  • The group says oil and gas producers in developed countries may emit over a billion tons of carbon dioxide that is not currently being reported.
  • Shipping industry emissions have grown about 10% each year since 2018 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, says the group.
  • The release of the report comes ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

A technology and academic coalition backed by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore was set to unveil on 16 September 2021 data showing fossil fuel producers' previously unrecorded greenhouse gas emissions, and growing pollution from shipping and aviation.

Other details about the precise sources of climate change are also shown in the material by Climate TRACE, drawing on data from satellites and high-level computer analysis.

The data should be useful to leaders of the 100 countries that have little data on their most-polluting sectors, Gore said in an interview on Wednesday.

Among worrisome trends, oil and gas producers and refiners in developed countries may emit over a billion tons of carbon dioxide not currently being reported, the group said.

Shipping industry emissions have grown about 10% each year since 2018 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the group added.

Gore said the new data should not lead to pessimism since the additional emissions have already shown up in gauges of atmospheric carbon.

a chart showing worldwide emissions
Oil and gas producers in developed countries may emit over a billion tons of carbon dioxide that is not currently being reported.
Image: Our World in Data

"As the old cliche has it, you can only manage what you can measure," Gore said.

The release comes ahead of the COP26 world climate conference set to start in Glasgow, Scotland on Oct. 31. Talks there are aimed to spur more ambitious commitments by countries to keep the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius during this century, in line with the 2015 Paris Accord. [nL1N2Q91SV]

Climate TRACE's name invokes its goal of 'Tracking Real-time Atmospheric Carbon Emissions." The coalition grew from a Google.org grant that funded the measurement of power plant emissions from space, it said in a statement.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

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Providers of satellite data for the project include Planet Labs Inc, NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploratory Agency. Other coalition members include geospatial data company Blue Sky Analytics, research organization CarbonPlan, and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.