Web-service providers, in partnership with Google, make satellite data easy to use and access by non-experts to optimise their carbon offsetting investments.
In recent years, high-emitting sectors have been encouraged to increase their carbon offsetting efforts and commit to the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreements. While public and political pressure is mounting, companies are challenged to identify, invest into and track optimal avenues of offsetting their carbon emissions in pursuit of Net Zero.
Fortunately, new technologies and solutions offer businesses the means to translate their net-zero pledge into effective, accurate and transparent implementation. At Earth Blox, we pioneer easy-to-deploy carbon offsetting tracking by leveraging cloud-based satellite imagery.
Tracking CO2 and finding carbon sinks
The public sense of urgency associated with Net Zero derives from years of mounting evidence that our planet is undergoing significant environmental changes largely caused by human activity.
In 2017, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the global mean surface temperature reached ~1°C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900), also exacerbating temperature extremes. This in turn leads to rising, warming seas, more chaotic weather and extreme weather events, as well as displaced populations, putting a strain on infrastructure, healthcare systems and food supplies.
Because of their magnitude and slow-response, planet-wide ecological and meteorological systems are difficult to track and harder to influence with any immediacy. Data recorded over the last 151 years shows that the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide (CO2) rose from 280 ppm (parts per million) to about 417 ppm, with coal and oil burning contributing to a 48% increase over a century. However, traditional high-emitting industries, and energy producers in particular, are expected to rise to the challenge and curb their CO2 emissions.
Carbon Offsetting is the preferred option to achieve this, as a transition to Net Zero by the 2050 target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement is technologically and financially unrealistic. Instead, investing in Forest Protection allows companies to offset their unavoidable carbon emissions and contribute to Net Zero. Trees represent 45% of land-based carbon absorption, making them the single biggest carbon absorbers available on land.
Forests at risk of degradation are the best candidates for carbon offsetting investments.
Stopping forest degradation not only preserves their capacity to support wildlife and people, it prevents the CO2 stored in these forests from being released as extra GHG.
Newly planted trees on the other hand, whilst undoubtedly beneficial for the planet, take years to mature into their full carbon-absorbing potential, and as such are better suited to longer-term mitigation solutions.
New web-based tools for non-experts
Today, companies can use remote sensing data consisting of images and measurements collected by satellites to find a suitable forest for their investment, rather than performing impractical in person surveys.
Earth Observation (EO) satellites have become the most important means of environment monitoring and are used by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals [Note 1] to measure roughly 60% of the Essential Climate Variables that describe the planet’s climate [Note 2].
For instance, the US Government’s LandSat programme has allowed scientists to determine that a staggering 1.5 million km2 of forest was lost world-wide between 2000 and 2012. [Note 35]
This efficacy has led companies to turn to over 1,000 EO satellites [Note 4] in orbit to access a veritable treasure trove of data, collected over large swathes of the planet. This has accelerated climate and forest monitoring from a substantially long-winded process to one that can be visualised in minutes with a computer.
The selection and monitoring process afforded by EO allows investors to keep an eye on potential and ongoing ventures by tracking key indicators associated with forest degradation (deforestation, biomass and forest health, etc.). Canopy cover in particular can play a decisive role in making informed investments by bringing insight into the ecological importance of a forest. This indicator reflects the proportion of a forest covered by the crowns of trees, and therefore its CO2 sequestration capability. Shrewd investors are therefore more likely to choose at-risk, denser, more biodiverse forests which sequester more CO2 .
Nevertheless, the sheer number of EO missions currently active, the volume of data produced and the variety of sensor types available, can swamp decision makers with too many options. Until recently, finding relevant data sets to download and analyse was an expensive and lengthy process, requiring special software and knowledge of coding.
That’s no longer the case thanks to Earth Blox. Using the power of the cloud, and with an easy to use web-based interface, Earth Blox along with its partners, Google and Planet, makes petabytes of EO data as easy to access as logging into an email account. By removing lengthy download and processing times, we can deliver results to customers in mere moments.
Designed specifically with non-experts in mind, Earth Blox’s game-changing, no-code visual user interface (UI), empowers investors to interpret and leverage remote sensing data for informative insights. Its functionality is not only highly flexible but allows new users to quickly familiarise themselves with satellite imagery to build a custom workflow. This in turn helps to easily identify priority areas for high-impact resource deployment in humanitarian and environmental projects.
Packed with cutting-edge capabilities, Earth Blox breaks the mould of traditional satellite data delivery programmes and offers innovative opportunities for high-emitting energy companies to easily track and act on their environmental and sustainability performance.
With pressure for action mounting as the Paris Accords’ target deadline closes in, the time to act is now. Earth Blox offers the fastest and most easily deployed tool to help energy companies maximise their return on investment for carbon offsetting. Reach out to us at team@EarthBlox.io to learn more about our Commercial licence and to discuss how Earth Blox can help your business.
[Note 1] Source: UN Office of Outer Space Affairs
[Note 2] Source: European Space Agency
[Note 3] Source: Zhu, Zhe, et al. “Benefits of the free and open Landsat data policy.” Remote Sensing of Environment 224 (2019): 382-385.
[Note 4] Source: Union of Concerned Scientists