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How to Understand Asset-level Emissions by Country - Climate TRACE

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How to Understand Asset-level Emissions by Country

Jan 27, 2023

By Ann Marie Gardner


Climate TRACE’s recently released asset-level emissions data is an exciting tool that encompasses more than 70,000 of the most-polluting assets and facilities on the planet, including at least the top 500 globally for each sector. And that’s just what’s viewable via the website’s dashboard UI; a much broader dataset is available via CSV download.

Since the launch, many users are leveraging the tool to look up the most-emitting facilities in their specific country. Yet sometimes, a funny thing happens: a known source of major emissions for that country appears to be missing from the Climate TRACE asset-level dataset!

This blog post explains why that might be happening right now, how we will address that in the future, and how to examine Climate TRACE data looking at both individual assets and country-level emissions totals to get a fuller picture.


With more than 70,000+ assets in the website UI and 7+ million via download, we’ve already cataloged many of the world’s highest-emitting sources. 

For most sectors, Climate TRACE already has nearly 100% asset coverage globally (or close to that number). Those sectors include aluminum, cement, steel, aviation (domestic and international), shipping, land use, oil and gas refining,* and synthetic fertilizer.

*Climate TRACE has not yet been able to estimate emissions from Chinese teapot refineries, which are estimated to be ~ 3% of global refining emissions.

For a few other sectors, we’ve identified the top sources globally but haven’t (yet) pinpointed the emissions of every specific major facility. These sectors include power plants, oil and gas production and transport, rice cultivation, road transportation, mining, feedlot areas, solid waste disposal, and pulp-and-paper. More specifically:

—The Climate TRACE dataset for power plants includes the top 600 most-polluting power plants on the planet.

—About two-thirds of global oil and gas production and transportation are covered currently.

—The Climate TRACE dataset for rice cultivation covers the 26 countries with the largest amount of rice production. 

—For mining sectors, Climate TRACE covers 2,756 coal mines, 200 iron mines, 200 copper mines, and 100 bauxite mines. 

—For both feedlot areas and solid waste disposal, the total number of global assets is unknown, since these facilities aren’t well documented.

—For feedlot areas in particular, Climate TRACE data only cover Argentina and the United States (two major beef-producing countries) at present.

However, in the coming year Climate TRACE will move toward 100% asset-level coverage for these sectors as well. 

Meanwhile, of course we do also report both country-level and sector-level total emissions estimates, even though some sectors don’t yet have 100% asset-level coverage. That’s because Climate TRACE methodologies combine asset-level emissions insights with other modeling approaches, as well as incorporating other relevant independent data sources. 

This capability to be able to provide comprehensive sector- and country-level emissions estimates, even in advance of 100% asset-level coverage for facility emissions, can sometimes result in the curious result we mentioned in the introduction to this article. Namely, when you filter the asset-level data by country, a specific facility may not turn up in the results… even though that facility might be an important contributor to the country’s total GHG emissions.

There are two reasons this might occur: Either it’s because the asset isn’t yet covered in our dataset at all. Or it could mean that the asset is significant for the country’s emissions, but doesn’t crack the top 500 included in the Climate TRACE website dashboard (the data might still be found in the downloadable CSV file)

Let’s take a look at an example.


The Brindisi Sud power station — also known as Federico II — in southern Italy is the country’s largest coal-fired power plant and often noted on lists of Europe’s 30 most-polluting power plants. However, when you filter the Climate TRACE asset-level data to look at either Italy’s top emitters or the most-emitting power plants globally, Brindisi Sud is missing.

Of course, we all understand that the power plant very much exists and its associated emissions are very much real. So why doesn’t it appear in the Climate TRACE dashboard? The answer is simple: Although Brindisi Sud is a large contributor to Italy’s overall GHG emissions and even somewhat significant for the power sector across Europe more broadly, it does not fall in the top 600 power plants globally that are included in the Climate TRACE asset-level data to date.

By comparison, look at independent, non-Climate TRACE lists of Europe’s top 10 emitters — which all happen to be coal and lignite power plants in countries such as Germany and Poland. When we then filter the Climate TRACE asset-level data for most-polluting power plants across Europe, we now do see assets such as Poland’s Belchatow power station (Europe’s highest-emitting power plant), which ranks among the top 10 globally, and Germany’s Neurath power station, which ranks among the top 100 globally.


Until the Climate TRACE asset-level dataset includes 100% of major assets for 100% of sectors globally, how should users interpret the data? Answer: Filtering assets by country should be used for insight, but not yet considered absolutely comprehensive and exhaustive. The example of Italy’s Brindisi Sud shows why.

So if you’re browsing Climate TRACE’s asset-level emissions data via the website dashboard and a facility that you’re expecting to see isn’t there, what should you do?

First, download and cross-check the more-extensive CSV data files from our downloads page. It’s possible that the asset is still covered by our current data but that it’s emissions didn’t crest the global top 500 threshold that we used to decide which assets would be included in the user-friendly website interface.

Second, if the asset is still missing but you believe it to be a major source of emissions, please contact our team and flag the issue. It’s possible we missed it. (As you can imagine, there are quite a few assets globally to account for!) In fact, users already helped identify that South Africa’s Sasol Secunda coal-to-liquids plant slipped through the cracks, because it was a very rare example of an asset not fitting into any of our sector definitions.

We invite you to help us identify important missing data and with your help the tool will continue to improve and become even more accurate.

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