Global Registry of Fossil Fuels

Emissions and fossil fuel reserves

Current Reserves Already Exceed Any 1.5 Degree Carbon Budget

This application matches proven reserves in producing countries to potential future production scenarios. It is designed to examine the “reserves” overhang – the mismatch between carbon budgets and production plans – at country level.

Click on any country to see the total emissions embedded in its reserves against two future production scenarios. One is Business as Usual – what will happen if there are no further moves towards an energy transition. The other is Net Zero, country totals loosely modeled on the IEA’s global Net Zero pathway published in 2021.


Coal Reserves are so big that reserves have been cut in the analysis to cap at 50 years production at the current rate. Of the top five coal producing countries only China has reserves at less than 50 years (37). The others stretch longer (Indonesia, 63 years) and the rest into centuries – India is at 147 years, Australia at 315 years, and the United States at over 500 years. There is a consensus among experts that these reserves would not be produced out even without an energy transition, simply because of normal technological evolution, and also that coal reserves have been compiled on a different and less commercial basis than those of oil and gas.

Reserves Classification Systems The source for reserves data here are the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and BP’s Annual Statistical Bulletin, which both compile best efforts of reserves as reported by national regulators and other authoritative parties. The numbers here represent the highest category of reserves, what are termed “proven reserves” (known as “1P”) under the most widely used reserves classification system, the Petroleum Resources Management System, maintained by the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

It is important to understand that considerably greater volumes of oil and gas are estimated to be accessible, beyond the proven reserves category. Figures for lower categories of reserves are harder to obtain in public domain. Nevertheless a survey of such data that do exist, across 2,900 fields, showed that probable reserves (“2P”) averaged totals 40% higher than proven, and possible reserves (“3P”) 70% higher. Beyond that there are contingent resources, which have already been confirmed by drilling, which have larger volumes still.

Thus the analysis is a conservative view of the overhang between reserves and future production paths required by carbon budgets.

Global Registry of Fossil Fuels

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