A worldwide data warehouse to serve the Paris Climate Agreement bold ambition.

12 June 2017 | Share it on social networks

The Paris Climate Agreement is aiming at reaching a low carbon future with a clear objective of maintaining the global average temperature increase below a 2°C limit. This agreement has been ratified by 115 Parties and business decisions have been made in order to promote low carbon energies. However, this bold, worldwide ambition requires all nations to work together and put in place the means to achieve it. The creation of modern and cooperative tools will enable a change from country centric policies to worldwide based initiatives.

Measurement and centralization of the data

Few countries are already gathering Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions data from their large firms, such as the UK (required for UK incorporated companies listed on the main market of London Stock Exchange for instance) and the US.

Carbon Trust is an example of a cloud footprint manager tool used in 17 different countries which enables companies from all around the word to safely calculate their carbon footprint, using the Global Protocol for Community Scale Emissions.

As collected data is considered confidential, the tool is hosted on servers that have a range of physical and digital security measures in place protecting their data. Furthermore access to the tool is only available through a client specific URL and unique user logins for as many users required by the customer. The tool is designed to be as flexible to suit its clients’ needs. As it was specified by one of Carbon Trust employees, for instance, the tool can be set to enable data entry to match any reporting schedule required for a range of variables, it could be daily, weekly, quarterly or annually.


Challenges to overcome

It might become necessary to form an International Environment Commission – related to the UNO – to advise the Paris Climate Agreement ratified countries on their policies. From the emissions of the largest industries to those produced by cars and trucks on highways, worldwide data could be gathered in a core, so that the Commission could analyze and identify accurate and comparative ways of improvement. This real-time carbon emissions data would help ratified countries to adapt their environmental strategy accordingly.

It should be stressed that such a system has its flaws. To be more specific, this data might encounter tremendous safety and reliability-oriented issues. In fact, it would be dangerous if classified files were to fall in the wrong hands (active military bases’ energy consumption ...).

Another common challenge in centralized data centers is the quality of its information depending on technical reliability and human factors. Regarding technical-oriented issues, GHG captors need to be checked on a regular basis to ensure they are operating accurately, which can be considered costly in developing countries.

In a close future, every nation might have to overcome their personal interests to raise their forces for the better good and face that challenging situation by promoting transparency. It is true that all countries might not want to share their GHG emissions due to political or security issues. Companies might not want to broadly communicate that type of data because of the negative impact it would have on their brand image - as it was the case when Volkswagen cars real environmental impact was revealed - or because taxes could be index-linked to this data.

If that data centralization becomes necessary in a close future, numerous factors would need to be taken in consideration, such as the variety and complexity of the data to gather, as well as the political context that might distort few values. Nevertheless, each problem comes to an end if we put in place the means to do it, with the cooperation of each country around one common tool, adapting wisely its environmental policy so that industries feel free to share the truth so that all mutual benefit.

Sources:

http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9444.php

https://www.carbontrust.com/software#footprintexpert

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/measuring-and-reporting-environmental-impacts-guidance-for-businesses

https://ghgdata.epa.gov/ghgp/main.do

https://www.epa.gov/ghgreporting/ghg-reporting-program-data-sets

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