Climate TRACE aims to be a fully independent, comprehensive, up-to-date, detailed inventory of all significant sources of greenhouse gases worldwide, based primarily on direct observation of activities that drive emissions.
It has multiple advantages:
First, while many other inventories have one or more of these traits, Climate TRACE combines many sources. For example, official UNFCCC data are very detailed for some countries, but lack considerable detail for others and can be more than a decade years out of date. By contrast, other projects offer amazingly up-to-date information, but are often limited in scope to a select number of countries, sectors, or regions. Climate TRACE combines features from many different data sources, including other inventories, and invites others to do the same with our data. By pooling many data sources—and cross-validating the information underpinning each one—it is possible to usher in a new era of radical transparency with fully comprehensive, up-to-date, detailed global coverage.
Second, Climate TRACE is the first inventory based primarily on direct observation of emissions-causing activities. Currently, many inventories must rely solely on self-reported data from national reports that are often flawed, missing information, or lack detail. By using direct observations as our primary source of information, Climate TRACE can independently validate the results of other inventories, most of which we found are closely aligned with our own estimates. This third-party validation is important in providing universal accountability that will build trust in emissions tracking systems while also identifying anomalies and inconsistencies when they arise.
Third, because it is a software-powered solution built primarily from direct observation, Climate TRACE is capable of steadily upgrading in ways that traditional techniques are not. For most countries, our inventory offers the most detailed and comprehensive sub-sector breakdown available to date. And as of November 2022 Climate TRACE is sharing radically greater levels of detail withfacility level data on the largest known sources like individual power plants, factories, ships, planes, animal feedlots, and so on, all around the world.
Fourth, Climate TRACE measures the most prevalent climate-altering gases, including methane and nitrous oxide, in addition to carbon dioxide. For example, given the near-term warming potential of more potent greenhouse gases like methane, Climate TRACE allows users to compare emissions according to 20-year vs. 100-year time horizons. This information is helpful in gaining a better understanding of which emitting sources should be most urgently addressed.
Finally, Climate TRACE’s data are free and available to all under the Creative Commons 4.0 license. This is a distinct advantage over other data platforms that are hidden behind paywalls. This demonstrates the power of open data to advance the climate intelligence necessary to address the global climate crisis.