emissions satellite data

Satellite tracking data show many countries and firms do not provide accurate figures for their greenhouse gas emissions, The Guardian reports. Electricity generation in China and India, and oil and gas production in the US, have produced the biggest increases in global greenhouse gas emissions since 2015, when the Paris climate agreement was signed, new data has shown. The data shows that countries and companies are failing to report their emissions accurately, despite obligations to do so under the Paris agreement. 

Climate TRACE published an inventory of unprecedented granularity that pinpoints nearly every major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions around the world and provides independently produced estimates of how much each emits. Encompassing human-caused emissions from facilities — including power plants, steel mills, ships, and oil refineries — and other emitting activities — including fertilizer application, deforestation, and wildfires. The database now tracks GHG emissions from more than 352 million assets, a 4,400x increase compared to the number of assets covered by the inventory last year. All Climate TRACE data are free and publicly available to help enable action and accountability at the massive scale necessary for global progress.

Underreporting data

Satellite data and other forms of remote sensing, and additional public and commercial data, Climate TRACE provides emissions data that are unreported in traditional inventories. When emissions disappear from official reporting, Climate TRACE continues to track what the atmosphere sees. In fact, the majority of corporate emissions worldwide that are included in the Climate TRACE inventory are still not included in self-reported ESG databases.

Today’s data release represents a significant breakthrough in emissions monitoring at a time of increasing urgency for swift and targeted global climate action. According to the UN, the world must reduce emissions by at least 42% by 2030 in order to stay on the 1.5°C pathway.

Climate TRACE’s platform is a critical component of the world’s climate action toolkit; it is the most comprehensive and granular dataset of recent GHG emissions ever created. In line with the goals of the Global Stocktake, the Climate TRACE inventory allows for transparent assessment of each country’s progress toward the goals of the Paris Agreement with unparalleled precision and recency.

The satellite data show that countries and companies are failing to report their emissions accurately, despite obligations to do so under the Paris agreement. 

This highly granular level of information also enables companies to gain a better understanding of their own supply chains and the emissions intensity of the production of key materials across a wide range of suppliers. Even within a single company, the emissions intensity of their products can vary significantly, and is highly influenced by the location of the facilities and local government policies. For example, steel produced by ArcelorMittal’s Dofasco steel plant in Canada has an emissions intensity of 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per ton of steel, whereas steel produced by the same company in Poland has an emissions intensity of 2.2 tonnes of CO2 per ton of steel.

In the year of the Global Stocktake, Climate TRACE provides an important added level of detail to our understanding of the main drivers of emissions increases and reductions.

—Emissions increased in 2022: Global emissions increased 1.5% from 2021 to 2022 and have increased 8.6% from 2015 — the year of the Paris Climate Agreement — to 2022.

—Sectors leading global emissions increases: Since 2015 the largest increases in global emissions have come from electricity production and other energy use in China, electricity production in India, and oil and gas production in the US. The rise in emissions from just a handful of sectors in three countries account for nearly half of the increase in global emissions since 2015. In 2022, the change in emissions from oil and gas production in the US and Iran, as well as electricity generation in India, represented 17% of the rise in emissions worldwide.

—Methane on the rise: In the year after the Global Methane Pledge was announced, methane emissions increased 1.8%. China’s growing methane emissions accounted for 39% of that increase in 2022 — with China’s coal mining sector accounting for the biggest portion of their increase.

—A significant piece of the oil and gas footprint:  Flares are a significant and wide-ranging source of emissions throughout the oil and gas industry. Worldwide, flares are responsible for an average 15% of CO2 from oil and gas production. Some countries, like the Netherlands, Norway, Israel, and Colombia are on the low end (<1% to 2%) while others like Algeria, Iraq, Mexico, and Russia are on the high end (20% to >40%). Curtailing flaring offers an immediate opportunity to cut CO2 along with the methane that slips unburned during flaring.

—Deforestation dropping in key regions. While global emissions from deforestation remain high (4.5 billion tonnes CO2e) and increased slightly in 2022 (+5%), there have been significant reductions in some key regions. In Indonesia, emissions from deforestation and degradation have declined by 56% and 87% respectively, from 2015 to 2022. In the Congo Basin, emissions in 2022 from deforestation and degradation dropped by 7% and 19% compared to 2021. In Latin America, emissions did not change significantly throughout 2022.

—Higher income countries drive road transport emissions: Road transportation emissions increased 3.5% in 2022. Despite the increasing availability of electric vehicles, high- and upper-middle income countries were responsible for 68% of that total increase in emissions. 49% of all emissions from road transportation in 2022 came from high-income countries.

—Aviation emissions reach new heights: In 2022, the continued post-COVID travel rebound caused aviation emissions to surge, with the total from international flights rising 74% between 2021 and 2022, and domestic flight emissions rising 18%.

—Shipping impacts Arctic region: As Arctic sea ice declines, shipping traffic in the area has increased. The number of weeks where CO2 emissions from ships were above 30,000 tonnes in the Arctic has doubled between 2018 and 2022.

—The growing role of petrochemicals: Emissions from ethylene production (via steam cracking) — a petrochemical included in the Climate TRACE inventory for the first time this year — have steadily been climbing. Resulting GHG emissions have jumped 22% since 2015.