UN signs deal for satellite methane monitoring

The United Nations’ methane monitoring programme has signed a deal with Kayrros to use satellite data and AI to track emissions of the potent greenhouse gas.

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Launched at the G20 Summit in 2021, the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) is part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its aim is to introduce new methods and technologies to improve visibility of methane emissions from human activity, generally associated with fossil fuel extraction and processing. To date, much of the data on methane emissions has been self-reported by energy companies and, in many cases, found to be underestimated by a considerable distance.

UNEP’s new deal with environmental technology company Kayrros will aim to bring transparency to methane reporting. Using a combination of satellite imagery, artificial intelligence and ‘geoanalytics’, Kayrros will assist UNEP in building a global dataset of ‘empirically verified methane emissions at an increasing level of accuracy and granularity’.

This dataset will then be used by regulators, policymakers and the companies themselves to target a reduction in methane emissions, part of The Global Methane Pledge. Methane is the second most abundant greenhouse, responsible for around 20 per cent of temperature increases to date. What’s more, methane drives global heating more than 80 times faster than CO2 over its initial 20 years in Earth’s atmosphere, making it a vital battleground in the climate crisis.

“The Global Methane Pledge is key to delivering the greenhouse gas cuts needed to avert the worst effects of climate change,” said Antoine Rostand, co-founder and president of Kayrros.

“Kayrros is pleased to become a key data provider to IMEO to help it execute its mission, and grateful for the generous support of the Global Methane Hub. The collaboration thus made possible will bring great benefit for climate and humankind. We’re proud to be playing our part in providing actionable solutions for global climate action.”

IMEO will use Kayrros’ Methane Watch, claimed to be the only current platform capable of monitoring the entire planet for methane releases and quantifying emissions in an automated manner, using data from multiple satellite constellations. Data from the platform will help inform the Methane Alert and Response System (MARS), launched by UNEP at the recent COP27 in collaboration with the International Energy Agency and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. 

“Kayrros’ technology brings unique capabilities,” said Manfredi Caltagirone, head of IMEO.

“We are pleased to have their technology support UNEP’s Methane Alert and Response System (MARS) and help us advance our mission to reduce methane emissions and meet the aims of the Global Methane Pledge.”