A wave of satellites set to orbit Earth will be able to pinpoint producers of greenhouse gases, down to an individual leak at an oil rig.
More than a dozen governments and companies — from the European Space Agency to Montreal-based GHGSat Inc. — have or are planning to launch satellites that measure concentrations of heat-trapping gases such as methane, which is blamed for about one quarter of man-made global warming.
They are looking to track nations, industries, companies and even individual facilities to identify some of the biggest contributors to climate change.
“Space-based technologies are allowing us for the first time to quickly and cheaply measure greenhouse gases,” said Mark Brownstein, a senior vice president at Environmental Defense Fund, which plans to launch its MethaneSAT in 2021. “Oftentimes both government and industry are not fully aware of the magnitude of the opportunity to cut emissions. With that data, they can take action.”