Axios' Andrew Freedman reports...A new era in monitoring compliance with environmental regulations is quickly approaching, signaled in part by plans announced Thursday to deploy a network of satellites that can pinpoint sources of methane and carbon dioxide emissions.
Driving the news: A new nonprofit, known as Carbon Mapper, aims to launch its first satellite in 2023 that can detect methane "super-emitters" and track carbon emissions.
Why it matters: If successful, it could transform the way policymakers regulate greenhouse gas emissions and also generate a wealth of data for public use.
How it works: Carbon Mapper combines the skills of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and satellite firm Planet with the state of California, two Arizona universities, a foundation and an environmental think tank.
It has raised $100 million for its first two satellites, planned for launch in 2023. A second phase, consisting of a constellation of satellites, is in the design stages for launch in 2025.
The big picture: When combined with efforts by the Environmental Defense Fund to launch its own methane-tracking satellite, the development signals the move toward real-time emissions monitoring.
"We're providing the zoom lens to find these point source methane and CO2 emissions and quantify them, and to get them in the hands of operators within 24 hours so that they can take rapid action," said Planet co-founder and chief strategy officer Robbie Schingler in an interview.
The intrigue: Depending on whether these efforts are successful, regulators may be able to know how well a company, state or nation is living up to its climate commitments.
- This venture could bolster support for emissions reduction programs, from the consumer level to the international arena, where nations could independently monitor the emissions from other countries.
Of note: A space-based system is particularly well-suited to monitoring methane emissions hot spots, also known as super-emitters.