Climate change is worsening in the US, satellite technology revolutionizes emissions monitoring and rising concerns around greenwashing.
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The Fifth National Climate Assessment, released by 14 US federal agencies, warns of escalating climate change impacts in the U.S. despite decreasing emissions. The report emphasizes worsening extreme climate events, with 2023 seeing a record number of billion-dollar climate disasters. While acknowledging emission reduction progress, the report emphasizes reducing coal use, expanding renewable energy, and protecting people from the effects of climate change.
This report serves as a call to action to keep channeling resources towards climate change mitigation strategies, decarbonization, and the clean energy transition. The potential for economic growth resulting from these initiatives stands as a beacon of hope, capable of inspiring even those skeptical of climate change to recognize the co-benefits and opportunities of sustainable practices.
GHGSat Inc, the Canadian company that pioneered the commercial monitoring of methane emissions from space, has successfully launched three new satellites. Two of these are built to measure methane leaking into the atmosphere from industrial sources, and, for the first time, the third one is dedicated to quantifying the carbon dioxide that is released from different kinds of facilities around the world. If successful, the satellite will measure carbon dioxide concentrations in small locations, providing data on emissions from individual sites, such as coal-burning utilities, steel mills, fertilizer plants or cement production facilities.
Satellite technology can make monitoring emissions more effective, reducing the effort and resources for extensive on-the-ground work. Moreover, satellite observations foster transparency and accountability in climate-related commitments. The awareness of being monitored can lead to more responsible and accountable behavior regarding climate commitments.
Investors are expressing rising concerns over corporate greenwashing, as indicated by a PwC survey of 345 investors and analysts in 30 countries. The report reveals that while investors continue supporting ESG and sustainability issues, respondents believe corporate sustainability reporting includes unsupported claims. Investors are now seeking more information on the cost of companies’ ESG commitments, the path they draw to achieve them, and their impact on the environment and society.
Accuracy in data remains to be a challenge on the journey towards sustainability. Companies need to commit to clear and consistent reporting as they make progress. The evolving landscape demands a shift from vague claims to a concrete commitment to accuracy.