NRGI aims to help fossil-fuel producing countries make informed choices about their energy futures that protect the planet, strengthen their economies and create fairer societies. This work is grounded in the reality that the world must produce much less oil, natural gas and coal starting now if we are to avoid climate catastrophe.
As we are gathering here in New York for Climate Week, the imperative of managing fossil fuel production is top of mind for all of us. As the most recent UNEP production gap report shows, greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, fossil fuels still make up about 80 percent of the energy mix worldwide, and governments and companies around the world are still planning to produce more than double the supply of fossil fuels by 2030 that is compatible with the Paris Agreement.
Efforts to cut fossil fuel consumption are at the absolute core of global climate efforts. But these alone are unlikely to keep warming under 1.5C.
Getting back on track is absolutely crucial at this juncture. Efforts to cut fossil fuel consumption are at the absolute core of global climate efforts. But these alone are unlikely to keep warming under 1.5C. Managed supply cuts are also needed. And this is where the Global Registry of Fossil Fuels can help.
By providing us with information on reserves and how much coal, oil and gas is being produced, how much it is likely to cost, and what it means in terms of the remaining carbon budget, the registry gives international researchers and investors information we need to have a sensible conversation on fossil fuel supply and the pace of decline. It also provides leaders and activists within fossil fuel producing countries with a valuable tool to debate the risks – economic and environmental – associated with their production plans.
NRGI is pleased to support Carbon Tracker on this crucial project because we believe that making this information available can help in three distinct ways:
First and foremost, national policy makers can understand the scope of the problem, and they can engage in more inclusive and participatory decision-making.
Today, many producer countries continue to follow the same fossil-fuel-dependent pathways they have for decades, and are struggling to wrestle with the implication of what a managed decline means for them — whether that is on tax revenues, local business opportunities and employment, and on national climate commitments. Engaging with affected parties can help lead to outcomes that are better for all stakeholders involved.
More informed national debate might also help policy makers avoid risky bets, such as pouring public money into national oil company projects that will only break even if humanity exceeds its emissions targets.
In Nigeria, NRGI is working with local NGO BudgIT and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to support national dialogues on a future beyond oil that will examine questions like these. The registry will no doubt provide useful insights to inform conversations like this that need to happen all around the world.
Second, accountability actors can use production data to hold governments, companies, and others accountable to the commitments that they have made. And when producers fall short, civil society can facilitate market pressure, public shaming or litigation in response.
Finally, access to reliable data on production puts international stakeholders in a better place to cooperate to reach our shared goals. Globally inclusive dialogue is needed on important questions such as which countries should reduce production first. Many developing and emerging market producers with small carbon footprints are already calling on wealthy higher-emitting producers to lead the decline and to help provide support for national transition plans. Comparable data on production and emissions can lead to better understanding on what constitutes a managed, just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels.