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“Satellites Put the World’s Biggest Methane Emitters on the Map”

“Now the companies and countries responsible for a powerful greenhouse gas won’t be able to hide from view.”

“Orange and yellow pixels flash over American drilling heartlands around the Gulf Coast, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. Dark red stretches across Middle East and China, while disturbing dots of color pop up around Greenland’s coast. This is the dangerous world of atmospheric methane emissions, one of the most powerful drivers of global warning—and it’s visible to the public for the first time.

GHGSat Inc. released a new methane map on Wednesday that uses data from the company’s two satellites, which were launched earlier this year and can detect methane emitted by oil and gas wells, coal mines, power plants, farms and factories. It’s part of a wave of climate surveillance that will make it possible to hold countries and companies accountable for meeting targets to reduce and eventually eliminate planet-warming pollution.

“We’ve got a situation where for more than the last decade there’s been a significant and unexplained upward tick in global methane atmospheric concentrations,” said Jonathan Elkind, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. In a paper published last week, Elkind outlined the way satellite-driven transparency will better allow investors to identify which companies aren’t backing their goals with action.”

Naureen S Malik reports for Bloomberg October 21, 2020.