Bloomberg Philanthropies Commits $25M to Accelerate Satellite Technologies That Pinpoint Methane Emitters to Turbocharge Fight Against Climate Change
New funding builds on unique partnership to tackle potent methane emissions between Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carbon Mapper, Planet, the State of California, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University (ASU), High Tide Foundation, and RMI
Investment will monitor, report, and verify collective climate actions in support of the Global Methane Pledge
Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carbon Mapper, and partners announced the Carbon Mapper Accelerator program, to accelerate the deployment of emerging remote sensing technologies needed to effectively pinpoint, quantify, and diagnose sources of high-emission methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) globally. The new initiative provides immediate support to governments committed to the Global Methane Pledge, an unprecedented agreement led by the United States and the European Union to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030, which yesterday gained 24 new country signatories.
Carbon Mapper, a new nonprofit organization created to help improve understanding of and accelerate reductions in global methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, was launched in April 2021. The group made up by partners from the State of California, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL), Planet, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University (ASU), High Tide Foundation and RMI, is set to deploy a hyperspectral satellite constellation that will pinpoint, quantify and track point-source methane and CO2 emissions. Planet and NASA JPL are building the first two satellites, which are set to launch in 2023.
“Methane is a major contributor to climate change, and if we can’t measure it, we can’t manage it. Accurate, localized data on the sources of methane emissions will allow us to make critical progress toward the goals of the Global Methane Pledge – and our latest announcement aims to help do just that,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The Accelerator program will give public and private sector leaders the information they need to take action and reduce methane pollution, starting right away.”
“The Global Methane Pledge acknowledges the need for concerted global action now to address the climate threat of this super-potent greenhouse gas,” said United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. “The pledge needs to be matched with bold solutions. One way to do this is with the Carbon Mapper Accelerator program—it will give everyone who is serious about curbing methane emissions transparent, independent data and insights on actions that we can take today to make the emission reductions we know are necessary to keep 1.5C within reach.”
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases contributing to global warming and a leading cause of climate change worldwide. The Accelerator will turbocharge efforts to equip public and private sector decision-makers with timely, open-source data on methane emissions — empowering them to act quickly to cut emissions in the global race to achieve net-zero.
“This generous contribution and partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies comes at a time when our society needs an immediate full-court press to reduce greenhouse gas emissions—particularly the super-pollutant methane,” said Riley Duren, Chief Executive Officer of Carbon Mapper. “This positions Carbon Mapper to support near-term emission reduction efforts by multiple countries as part of the Global Methane Pledge as well as new methane monitoring and mitigation programs being established by federal and state agencies, non governmental organizations and companies. The steps we’re taking today are greasing the skids for rapid adoption and action by many stakeholders when the first satellites in our constellation are launched in 2023.”
Specifically, the new Carbon Mapper Accelerator will:
- Immediately expand airborne mapping of methane super-emitters across the Americas, Europe, and Africa — providing timely, open-source data that can inform climate policy and action in advance of the 2023 deployment of the satellite constellation.
- Provide policymakers, agencies, businesses, and civil society with early access to Carbon Mapper’s open source data, advancing the deployment of Carbon Mapper’s open online data portal on carbonmapper.org — including initial airborne data products starting in Fall 2021, expanded capabilities for the full satellite data portal by 2023, and expert support for users.
- Develop and test new cutting-edge remote-sensing technology, including 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.
The Accelerator will deliver powerful, tactical support to the Global Methane Pledge signatories by leveraging a constellation of satellites and airborne observations to provide frequent and sustained global monitoring of methane and carbon emissions and offer immediate technical assistance and expert interpretation. The effort also illustrates how philanthropy is stepping up to fill the funding gap in emissions monitoring — a critical and unmet need for tracking climate action. This announcement builds on yesterday’s launch of a first-of-its-kind alliance of leading philanthropies — including Bloomberg Philanthropies — who have pledged more than $200 million towards reducing methane emissions globally.
“A huge thanks to Bloomberg Philanthropies — this grant will help our consortium rapidly build Carbon Mapper to tackle methane and CO2 emissions,” said Will Marshall, Co-founder and CEO of Planet. “Measuring emissions is critical to enabling the sustainability revolution and we’re thrilled to have Bloomberg as a core partner.”
“We are glad to see Bloomberg Philanthropies step up on Carbon Mapper’s work to pinpoint methane sources around the world – this catalytic investment in the mitigation of greenhouse gases brings benefits to us all,” said Richard Lawrence, Founder and Director of High Tide Foundation. “This innovative coalition brings to life the critical role philanthropy plays in arming decision makers with the data they need in order to accelerate the clean energy transition as quickly as possible.”
The new Accelerator expands on the unique partnership between the High Tide Foundation, the Grantham Foundation, and other leading climate funders to develop and deploy a constellation of satellites to help fight climate change. Powered by $125 million in philanthropic funding to date, this coalition of private and public sector actors plans to launch its first satellites in 2023 and expand to an operational multi-satellite constellation starting in 2025, alongside accompanying data processing platforms. Early Carbon Mapper pilot projects in California, including a newly launched data portal, have proven the success of this model and its potential to expand as a game-changer in monitoring and reporting methane worldwide.
“This contribution will support the deployment of satellites that can significantly strengthen CARB’s efforts to identify and remediate methane leaks from oil and gas fields as well as other sources,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph. “The data resulting from the program will help to quickly pinpoint and prioritize methane leaks to better ensure those responsible take immediate corrective actions to combat climate change.”
Bloomberg’s support will also enable Carbon Mapper, in direct partnership with Arizona State University, to develop new applications for this technology, including potential land and ocean monitoring in support of coastal zone and coral reef management, precision agriculture, biodiversity, and fire and water resource management.
“The Carbon Mapper satellites, combined with ASU’s advanced algorithms and Global Airborne Observatory, will create a unique, comprehensive view of critical ecosystems,” said Professor Greg Asner, Director of the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science with ASU’s Global Futures Laboratory, and Chief Science Officer at Carbon Mapper. “With advanced mapping of greenhouse gas emissions and regions with human activity, governments and conservation organizations will know where to focus resources and how best to inform policy to accomplish both urgent and long-term climate and biodiversity action.”
The urgent need for dramatic improvements in emission monitoring and mitigation to track progress by 2030 requires a whole-of-society response, including private companies, public sector entities, philanthropy, and non-governmental organizations. As such, Carbon Mapper is designed to persistently pinpoint, quantify and track 80% of global methane and CO2 “super-emitters” — a relatively small fraction of facilities that contribute disproportionately to total emissions. 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. Carbon Mapper is intended to serve as a major tier of an emerging global system of monitoring systems and complement other programs.