Climate TRACE: The new GHG emissions monitoring project from the Climate TRACE coalition

A new Global Coalition of green NGOs and technology companies, Climate TRACE, will combine artificial intelligence (Al) and data from satellites to monitor global greenhouse gas emissions in real-time.

A greenhouse gas emission monitoring project, Climate TRACE, has been created by the Climate TRACE Coalition, a group of climate change non-profits and technology companies.

The project started when US-based non-profit, WattTime partnered with the UK based, Carbon Tracker to apply for the Al Impact Challenge by Google.org in 2019. 

WattTime and Carbon Tracker won the $1.7 million grant from Google.org for their project to monitor all global power plant emissions using satellites in space. Google.org also sent 7 data engineers and machine learning Fellows to work with the non-profits to develop the project for 6 months. 

Soon after they announced the winners of the Google.org grant, former US Vice President, Al Gore became a collaborator on the project. Stated on the website, Al Gore “long suspected that improved global emissions monitoring through satellites and AI held dramatic potential to accelerate climate progress”.     

The Climate TRACE project

Climate TRACE will use artificial intelligence (AI), satellite imagery of greenhouse gas emissions, infrared heat imaging, and nitrogen oxide sensor data to monitor harmful emissions. 

According to the Climate TRACE website, “the coalition aims to track human-caused emissions to specific sources in real-time—independently and publicly”.

Climate TRACE will yield more accurate up to date information 

The technology used by Climate TRACE could yield far more accurate, detailed, and up to date information than the methods currently available to governments and researchers.

The standard worldwide is that countries self-report their emissions. This can lead governments, companies, and scientists to use outdated even inaccurate information from deliberate under-reporting.

At best, the information collected from manual self-reporting is “incomplete, high-level summary information,” stated in the press release.     

Gavin McCormick, WattTime Executive Director said:

The Earth is like a medical patient suffering from a condition called climate change. 

Trying to fix it with only years-late, self-reported emissions data is like asking a doctor to fix a serious disease with no more information than a list of symptoms the patient had years ago. 

There’s a reason hospitals use blood pressure monitors, stethoscopes — may be an X-ray or MRI — to check what’s wrong with you right now. If we’re serious about stopping climate change, it’s time we gave climate ‘doctors’ the same kind of tools.”

The Climate TRACE coalition

Along with Al Gore, Carbon Tracker, and WattTime, the closed coalition is made up of 9 non-profits and technology companies. These companies include CarbonPlanEarthrise AllianceHudson CarbonBlue Sky Analytics and Hypervine

Climate TRACE is currently in the prototype stage of development. 

This tool could potentially become invaluable for detecting illegal polluters, monitoring, and verifying compliance in carbon cap-and-trade markets and international climate change agreements. 

The Coalition expects the first full global data report to be released in the summer of 2021.    

Lina Kurdi

Lina Kurdi is an Editor and Senior Writer at CleanTech News with a primary focus on renewable energy. Lina became interested in sustainability initiatives in 2012, when news of global warming dominated the headlines. From then on, Lina has paid close attention to cleantech developments and the impact they have on protecting the Earth and all its inhabitants. With a particular interest in energy, Lina passionately believes renewable energy is the way forward into a sustainable future with net zero emissions.