Michael R. Bloomberg, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action; California Governor Gavin Newsom; and Planet, the San Francisco-based earth-imaging company, announced Satellites for Climate Action, a new initiative that will use satellite data to inform and accelerate climate protection. The coordinated effort will bring together governments, philanthropists, environmental groups, and technology companies to use satellite technologies to monitor greenhouse gas emissions and turn satellite data into actionable information. The initiative was unveiled at the third annual Bloomberg Global Business Forum.
The initiative will focus on three areas: 1) apply Planet’s existing Earth observation data to climate solutions by analyzing coal-fired plant operations, 2) explore a new generation of satellite technologies with enhanced capabilities to detect greenhouse gases such as methane and CO2, and 3) develop new geospatial analytics that can directly enable conservation efforts for forests, coral reefs, and other critical natural resources.
“Data is one of the most powerful tools we have in the fight against climate change. The better we can measure factors like greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation, the faster and more effectively we can address them, and the easier it is for the public to hold leaders accountable,” said Bloomberg. “This partnership will empower governments and businesses to take action, and it’s an example of what’s possible when the public and private sectors work together. California has been a pioneer in using satellites to fight climate change and we’re looking forward to working with Governor Newsom and his team.”
California has one of the leading greenhouse gas reduction programs in the world to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 and a long history of finding innovative ways to reduce emissions while encouraging a thriving economy. California will work with its partners to use satellite data to ensure that expected emissions reductions are happening, enforce existing regulations, and to identify cheaper and faster ways to achieve further reductions.
“California is a force for change when it comes to adopting new technologies,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Working with Planet and Bloomberg Philanthropies, we will continue advancing the cause of climate leadership by leveraging satellite data and analyses to enforce our bold climate policies.”
Operating the largest constellation of Earth observing satellites in orbit, Planet acquires near-daily imagery covering Earth’s entire landmass. Building on this technology, Satellites for Climate Action will aim to fill critical climate data gaps in ongoing environmental research and climate monitoring by analyzing coal-fired plant operations globally and measuring essential climate variables.
“I am excited for this partnership as it leverages Planet’s unique near-daily coverage of the Earth. Together with Bloomberg’s expertise on environmental projects, we can track the critical challenges of our day, and with California demonstrate how data can lead to measurable action,” said Will Marshall, Planet co-founder and chief executive. “It’s encouraging to see how our data can be effective for addressing the world’s crises, and in particular, valuing nature and putting a cost on climate change.”
The world’s leading climate scientists have warned that in order to avoid the worst possible outcomes, we must make monumental changes to our global energy infrastructure and rapidly slash global greenhouse gas emissions. Lack of data is often a barrier to taking stronger climate actions. For instance, methane leakage is difficult to identify and actual emissions are often much higher than either industry or government recognize – unintentional leaks can be worse for the environment than burning coal.
Providing greater accuracy, efficiency, and geographical precision, satellite technology will help map and quantify problem areas that were previously unknown or inaccurately measured. Satellites for Climate Action will work with governments and organizations to support recognition and adoption of the resulting data and analyses to enact more targeted and effective climate mitigation strategies.
This partnership builds on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ environmental portfolio, which demonstrates a long-time commitment to applying data and transparency to the environment, including programs such as Beyond Carbon and Beyond Coal. Satellites for Climate Action also builds on the State of California and Planet partnership to support action on climate change announced at the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit. These efforts have been supported and co-funded by High Tide Foundation (formerly Overlook International Foundation) and The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.
“Mike Bloomberg brings new energy and insights to this already powerful partnership to use data to drive action on climate change,” said Kate Gordon, Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR), and Governor Newsom’s Senior Advisor on Climate Change.
Gordon, on behalf of OPR, co-signed the Satellites for Climate Action initiative with Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board, the State’s lead agency for climate change and air pollution.
“This cutting-edge technology gives us an important set of new tools to detect, monitor and cut greenhouse gas emissions,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “This initiative is exactly the type of collaboration we need to tackle climate change.”
As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Mike Bloomberg has become the world’s leading environmentalist through his public and private sector work to fight the growing climate crisis. Through more than $1 billion in climate-forward initiatives, Bloomberg’s expansive environmental work includes efforts to mobilize cities, states, businesses and non-governmental organizations to cut c