At COP26, Gore Says Satellite Emissions Monitoring Helps Climate-Change Fight

Real-time checks on where greenhouse gases are being produced may prove a powerful weapon in the fight to cool the earth.,


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Satellite monitoring of emissions from countries and companies ‘changes everything,’ Al Gore says.

Nov. 3, 2021Updated 1:18 p.m. ET

One of the challenges in holding companies and countries accountable for their roles in global warming is how greenhouse gas emission data has been self-reported, former Vice President Al Gore said Wednesday on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

“There’s an old cliche that I’m sure you’ve heard a million times: that you can only manage what you can measure,” Mr. Gore said, speaking at the Climate Hub, a Times event series running alongside the conference.

But, he said, advances in satellite and computer analysis have enabled information about emissions to be tracked independently and in real time, helping scientists assign responsibility for emissions to specific industries, companies and regions.

“That changes everything,” he said.

Mr. Gore’s Climate Trace coalition, which began last year, issued its first report on greenhouse gas emissions in September. It was the culmination of a study that analyzed data from more than 300 satellites.

“We now have the emissions, for the last five years, for every large source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet,” said Mr. Gore, whose film about climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth,” won the 2007 Academy Award for best documentary. “By next year, we will have that down to such a granular level that we will be able to report monthly, weekly and in a few cases daily totals from every single significant machine source everywhere in the world.”

Mr. Gore said he wanted to focus on the potential for new technology to help make greenhouse gas emission reporting more transparent, more timely and more accurate. At past climate conferences, he said, the discussion was based on outdated data. There are 100 countries that don’t have any emissions data that is more recent than five or even 20 years old, he said.

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