The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is well on its way to raising the US$40 million it will need to launch its own satellite to monitor methane emissions from oil and gas operations around the world.
The satellite “would be the first capable of monitoring worldwide all oil and gas facilities with precision,” said EDF President Fred Krupp, “It’s a very compact satellite designed to do one thing way better than anyone’s done it.”
To get the project launched, EDF “tapped into the work of Harvard University researchers to fine-tune sensors,” the Washington Post reports. “And it has reached out to Ingersoll and others in the commercial space business to create a device that will be able to measure methane emissions on a 125-mile-wide swath with pixel resolution of less than five-eighths of a mile.” Fundraising support will come from TED Talks, among others.
The result is a monitoring system that “will enable EDF to more accurately measure methane emissions, which account for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions,” the Post adds, capturing a “snapshot of 80% of the globe” every seven days and detecting methane concentrations down to two parts per billion.
The results of that analysis will help measure progress toward the goals in the Paris agreement, since methane reductions are included in countries’ implementation plans. “Twenty-five percent of the warming that the planet is experiencing right now is from man-made methane emissions, and the oil and gas industry is a significant source of those emissions,” EDF Senior Vice President Mark Brownstein told the Post. “Reducing those emissions can have a material impact on slowing the rate of warming now.”