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Our Story - Climate TRACE

Our Story

Climate TRACE is a non-profit coalition of organizations building a timely, open, and accessible inventory of exactly where greenhouse gas emissions are coming from.

Our goal

We make meaningful climate action faster and easier by harnessing technology to track greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with unprecedented detail and speed, delivering information that is relevant to all parties working to achieve net-zero global emissions.

Our purpose

For decades, measurements such as the Keeling Curve have given us the big-picture view of how much carbon dioxide is in the Earth’s atmosphere. We know emissions are on the rise, and we know it’s a result of our continued use of fossil fuels.

But we need additional information about exactly where and when greenhouse gas emissions are occurring in order to set actionable goals to reduce them and to track our progress toward these emissions reduction goals. Climate TRACE was formed in order to provide this insight on a comprehensive basis across all countries,major emitting industries, and major individual sources of emissions, enabling a new era of radical transparency that will help facilitate concrete climate action.

Until now, most emissions inventories have been based on self-reported, often years-late data that relied on rough estimates, opaque methods, and inaccessible reporting. Government officials, scientists, investors, executives, and activists need better data to support the creation of policies, programs, and campaigns aimed at limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C as agreed to under the  Paris Climate Agreement.

That’s where Climate TRACE comes in. We’re harnessing technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to analyze over 59 trillion bytes of data from more than 300 satellites, more than 11,100 sensors, and numerous additional sources of emissions information from all over the world. The result is a groundbreaking approach to emissions monitoring… one that is independent, transparent, and timely.

The journey began in 2019 when two of our founding coalition members, WattTime and TransitionZero, received a Google.org grant to monitor emissions from power plants from space using satellites. The project opened conversations with many researchers and advocates around the world, who started asking: Could we monitor nearly all human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally?

Our answer is yes. And so Climate TRACE launched in July 2020 and now counts nonprofits, tech companies, universities, and former Vice President Al Gore as members.

Climate TRACE’s global emissions inventory, released in September 2021, provides the first comprehensive accounting of GHG emissions based primarily on direct, independent observation.

Together, we’re making GHG emissions visible. By tracing the root of the climate crisis, we’re working to help solve it.

Our Roadmap

Our work builds upon recent advances in satellite observation and artificial intelligence that are enabling breakthroughs in emissions monitoring across sectors. Our work is based on cooperation and collaboration and we aim to work with and learn from researchers and technologists around the globe.

That means Climate TRACE is constantly evolving and improving. We aim to harness the latest improvements in technologies and methodologies to provide the most accurate picture of global emissions possible. 

May 2019

Three nonprofits receive funding from Google.org to use AI to monitor power plant emissions from space.

January 2020

The vision expands to cover all global emissions; additional partners identified.

July 2020

The Climate TRACE coalition launches and work begins.

December 2020

Climate TRACE co-hosts Remote Sensing Technology Forum with UN Race to Zero and adds new partners and collaborators.

June 2021

Launch data validation effort by external scientists and emissions experts.

September 2021

Release of first Climate TRACE emissions inventory.

October 2021

Coalition member Gavin McCormick gives a TED Talk on Climate TRACE.

March 2022

Climate TRACE and The Climate Group launch the “States and Regions Remote Sensing” (STARRS) project to deliver emissions inventories for sub-national governments.

July 2022

Climate TRACE adds granularity to its emissions inventory, with data on emissions by individual greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) and the ability to compare emissions potential over 20 or 100 years.

November 2022

Climate TRACE releases its first facility-level inventory, covering more than 72,000 individual sources of emissions, representing the biggest known sources of greenhouse gas emissions from more than two dozen industries.

Coming Soon

Comprehensive facility-level data representing all major known sources of emissions, as well as monthly and weekly data.

Data Download Survey