Thanks to David Roberts, at Vox, for this news:
The new Climate TRACE Coalition is assembling the data and running the AI.
There’s an old truism in the business world: what gets measured gets managed. One of the challenges in managing the greenhouse gas emissions warming the atmosphere is that they aren’t measured very well.
“Currently, most countries do not know where most of their emissions come from,” says Kelly Sims Gallagher, a professor of energy and environmental policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. “Even in advanced economies like the United States, emissions are estimated for many sectors.” Without this information “you cannot devise smart and effective policies to mitigate emissions,” she says, and “you cannot track them to see if you are making progress against your goals.”
The lack of good data also complicates international climate negotiations. “It’s frustrating that nearly three decades after countries committed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to publish national GHG emissions inventories, we still don’t have recent, comprehensive, and consistent inventories for all countries,” says Taryn Fransen of the World Resources Institute.
The lack of reliable data leads to endless time spent haggling over monitoring, reporting, and verification, and a persistent background level of mutual suspicion. In late 2015, just before the 2016 international climate negotiations in Morocco, China revealed that it had underestimated the amount of coal it burned by 17 percent — one billion tons of additional greenhouse gas emissions, equal to the emissions of Germany’s entire energy sector. That kind of thing does not build confidence.
The ultimate solution to this problem — the killer app, as it were — would be real-time tracking of all global greenhouse gases, verified by objective third parties, and available for free to the public.
When countries began meeting under the UNFCCC in the mid-1990s, that vision was speculative science fiction. It was basically regarded as science fiction when the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. But science moves quickly — in particular, artificial intelligence, the ability to rapidly integrate multiple data sources, has advanced rapidly in recent years.
Now, a new alliance of climate research groups called the Climate TRACE (Tracking Real-Time Atmospheric Carbon Emissions) Coalition has launched an effort to make the vision a reality, and they’re aiming to have it ready for COP26, the climate meetings in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021 (postponed from November 2020). If they pull it off, it could completely change the tenor and direction of international climate talks.
It could also make it easier for the hundreds of companies, cities, counties, and states that have made ambitious climate commitments to reliably track their process. “Trying to build up such an infrastructure the old, bottom-up way won’t get us where we need to be in time,” says Fransen, “so I’m thrilled that a big, smart, and well-resourced coalition is taking this on with an ambitious vision and a novel approach.”…
Read the whole article here.