In the timebound fight against climate change, methane matters—a lot.
Methane is considered a super pollutant with more than 80 times the heat trapping power of carbon dioxide (CO2) over the first 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere. And while CO2 has longer-lasting effects, methane’s short lifespan and outsized climate impact make it an ideal target for immediate mitigation action.
Acknowledging the urgency of this threat and opportunity, major global actors are stepping up in a big way.
On October 11th, 24 countries including the United States, European Union, Japan, Canada, Nigeria, Pakistan and announced their participation in the Global Methane Pledge, establishing a shared diplomatic commitment to lower methane emissions 30 percent by 2030. Additionally, some of the most powerful philanthropic organizations are filling the funding gap in emissions monitoring, pledging over $223 million toward methane-reducing programs.
Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Carbon Mapper announced the Carbon Mapper Accelerator Program with an eye toward building upon the global momentum to tackle methane with real solutions that have proven results in reducing emissions. The program gives teeth to commitments by empowering science-backed decision making by providing open access to timely, precise and transparent emissions data.
Continuing our Commitment to Collaboration
The Global Methane Pledge, unprecedented philanthropic collaboration, and the Carbon Mapper Accelerator program reflect how the urgent need for dramatic improvements in emission monitoring and mitigation to track progress by 2030 requires a whole-of-society response.
This response includes private companies, public sector entities, philanthropy, and non-governmental organizations.
As such, Carbon Mapper’s constellation of spacecraft is designed to persistently pinpoint, quantify and track 80 percent of global methane and CO2 “super-emitters,” — a relatively small fraction of facilities that contribute disproportionately to total emissions — while complimenting other satellite monitoring systems. The constellation’s agility and flexible targeting also allow for rapid follow-up for hotspots identified by wider-area mapping satellites such as the European Sentinel series and the Environmental Defense Fund’s MethaneSAT. As our capabilities grow and evolve, Carbon Mapper is intended to serve as a major tier of an emerging global system of monitoring systems and complement other programs.
The Power of Independent Observation + Data to Ramp Up Methane Mitigation Action
We all know that we can’t manage what we don’t measure. Therefore, Bloomberg’s $25M investment into the Carbon Mapper Accelerator program is rooted in the need to advance the deployment of technologies to successfully pinpoint, quantify, and diagnose sources of high-emission methane and CO2 globally.
This funding builds upon over $100M in funding to date by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Grantham Foundation, and High Tide foundation for the partnership between Carbon Mapper and Planet, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, The State of California, The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and RMI. The additional injection of funding accelerates the timeline of delivery for climate-critical methane data plus increased airborne monitoring surveys that inform and empower decisions.
By using innovative technologies that pinpoint specific facilities at a level of precision and visibility not captured by coarser resolution mapping satellites, generating insights about facility characteristics, and making data and analysis publicly available, Carbon Mapper has already helped regulators and operators to fix issues — such as leaks — in a timely manner.
The Accelerator enables Carbon Mapper to kick this strategy into overdrive with a particular focus in three areas:
The Accelerator is expanding airborne mapping of methane super-emitters across the Americas, Europe, and Africa. Existing data gathered from Carbon Mapper’s airborne surveys reveal that a relatively small number of high-emitting methane point sources contribute 20—50 percent of total methane emissions in regions surveyed so far. This “super-emitter” activity occurs in multiple economic sectors including energy, waste management and agriculture, with significant regional variations.
By expanding these surveys Carbon Mapper will quickly provide timely, open-source data that can inform climate policy and action in advance of the planned 2023 deployment of Carbon Mapper’s satellite constellation.
The Accelerator is advancing the deployment of Carbon Mapper’s open online data portal which includes initial airborne data campaigns to provide policymakers, agencies, businesses, and civil society with access to the information they need to make science-based decisions. Carbon Mapper’s data portal, research prototype (originally developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab), today allows anyone to explore, analyze, and download point source methane data as collected by the Carbon Mapper research team in select US regions since 2016.
Advancing remote-sensing technologies:
While methane is of critical importance today, it is just the tip of the iceberg for the vast environmental potential for Carbon Mapper’s technology. The Accelerator is supporting additional technology applications such as advanced land and ocean data products that can support climate adaptation and conservation efforts as well as satellite data fusion with coordinated high-resolution imaging by Planet’s SkySat established constellation.