Al Gore, an environmentalist and former U.S. Vice President, says self-reporting on greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry opens that reporting up to cheating. File Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI | License Photo
Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Total greenhouse gas emissions from the production of crude oil and natural gas could be about three times as high as reported to the United Nations, according to a report released Wednesday.
Climate TRACE, a coalition founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to monitor global emissions, said in the report that data voluntarily offered to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change is misleading.
Their reporting found that more than half of the 50 largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions are associated with oil and natural gas fields and those emissions are vastly under-reported.
"Among the top countries that report their oil and gas production emissions to the U.N., Climate TRACE finds emissions are as much as three times higher than self-reported data," the report read.
Reporting from TRACE backs findings from the U.S. space agency NASA of huge plumes of the potent greenhouse gas methane spewing from oil and gas installations worldwide. Oil and gas infrastructure in Turkmenistan is emitting a plume of methane that stretches some 20 miles long and is releasing about 111,000 pounds of methane an hour.
In the United States, NASA detected a 2-mile plume stretching across New Mexico that's the result of exploration and production activity in the Permian basin, the largest inland source of crude oil in the country.
The United Nations' World Meteorological Organization, meanwhile, offered "yet another ominous warning," stating that emission levels for the three main greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- all reached record highs in 2021.
Those dire findings come as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres names and shames big polluters from the COP27 environmental summit underway in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheik. Guterres on Tuesday accused big polluters of "greenwashing" their stated commitments to addressing climate change.
Former Vice President Gore told The Guardian that it may be less greenwashing and more of an issue with self-reporting on emissions.
"If there is a bad actor, who doesn't want to report, or if there is a brand name company that wants to sell its high emitting asset through a dark private equity group, it disappears from the self-reporting framework," he said. "But we still see it because we have empirical data. So we can help them protect against cheating."