Former Vice President Al Gore described Thursday that a global “machine learning” artificial intelligence-led effort is essentially spying on individual facilities in every country around the world to measure their greenhouse gas emissions and target the world’s biggest emitters.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Gore formally introduced attendees to the initiative known as Climate Tracking of Atmospheric Carbon Emissions in Real Time, or Climate TRACE. The initiative has spawned a website that enables real-time tracking of emissions in any area of the world, which Gore says allows climate activists, reporters and others to identify high-priority industries and regions for programs. emissions reduction.
“It is a non-profit coalition that uses artificial intelligence to process data from 300 existing satellites and from 30,000 sensors from land, sea and air bases and multiple data streams from the Internet to use artificial intelligence to create machine learning algorithms to approach each major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution,” said Climate TRACE.
Gore showed how Climate TRACE uses these inputs to zoom in on specific facilities and assess how much they contribute to GHG emissions.
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“This is a steel plant I’m using as an example,” he said as he zoomed in on a facility in Indiana. “We track it constantly. Google Earth has helped us with this particular style of video.”
Gore showed how thermal heat readings can be generated for each individual facility and how that information can be turned into aggregate readings for regions and countries. He said the technology available for Climate TRACE can be used for very precise intelligence gathering, including “how many cooling fans are running” on the rooftop of a single facility.
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“We can show you exactly what’s going on, whether it’s [emissions are] going up or down,” he said.
Satellite images alone are not good enough, Gore said, because of “noise” in the atmosphere that makes it difficult to determine emissions levels. “With artificial intelligence, you can look at the smoke column, you can look at the infrared,” he said.
During his presentation, Gore zoomed in on a location in Texas that was littered with emissions readings.
“Here is the largest emissions site in the world in Texas,” he said. “Here’s a New Mexico site in the Permian Basin. Oil and gas is the largest source overall. This is a confined animal feeding lot operation. This is the highway system in Houston, Texas. This It’s another oil and gas field.”
“You can do this in all countries, all regions, all sectors,” Gore said. “We can tell you the main issuing assets in each country.”
Gore said the biggest sources of emissions are oil and gas fields, which he said made up half of the top 50 emitters globally. He also repeated a finding that Climate TRACE made last year, which is that oil and gas facilities emit more than three times the amount of GHGs they report.
Data from Climate TRACE shows that China is the largest GHG emitter, followed by the US, India, Russia and Japan.
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Gore said the initiative monitors about 70,000 sites around the world today, but said 70 million sites would be under surveillance by the end of the year. He said the data extracted from Climate TRACE can be used by “NGOs and activists trying to prioritize their campaigns, financial companies, journalists, researchers” and others.
The Climate TRACE coalition consists of 11 NGOs: Blue Sky Analytics, Carbon Yield, Earthrise Media, Global Energy Monitor, Hypervine.io, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Ocean Mind, RMI, TransitionZero, Watt Time, and a group of researchers working for Gore in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Gore said the group benefits from 100 other collaborators, including Airbus, Bloomberg LP, Duke University, Georgetown University and Michigan State University.