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Google and Data-Driven EnviroLab to partner on tracking cities’ climate performance

Google and Data-Driven EnviroLab to partner on tracking cities’ climate performance

Data-Driven EnviroLab (DDL) and Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) are teaming up to assess climate emissions for around 13,000 cities that have pledged voluntary climate targets, as recorded in DDL’s ClimActor database. The ClimActor database revealed that according to Prof Angel Hsu, “only 10% of these 11,000 cities actually provide data on these pledges.” In addition, “90% of this provided data is self-reported by the cities” and not subject to independent validation. This poses a massive risk to accountability and trust among actors and exacerbates global cooperation and governance of climate action.

The EIE uses Google data sources and modeling capabilities, as well as advanced machine learning techniques, to model estimates of activity-specific emissions and identify carbon reduction opportunities. Accordingly, such techniques and digital technologies show great potential to improve global climate actor accountability. EIE’s goal is to translate this potential into effective climate action by using its data to develop emission baselines and provide actionable recommendations for decision-makers, solution providers, and researchers.

“Google remains steadfast in its commitment to sustainability and a carbon-free future,” said Kate Brandt, Google Chief Sustainability Officer. “By making complex data simple and easy to understand, we aim to empower cities with technology to help create a clean and healthy planet for everyone.”

The Data-Driven EnviroLab (DDL), hosted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been assessing subnational and non-state climate actions , through a series of reports quantifying their contribution to global climate mitigation. The latest one assesses the progress of subnational and corporate actors towards meeting self-declared emission reduction goals. Last August, the lab assessed the progress of around 1,000 European cities in a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, and is currently scaling the study for all cities in Europe.

DDL is also one of the founders and workstream leads of the CAMDA Climate Action Data 2.0 (CAD2.0) workgroup, a network of data and analytic experts that are seeking to apply digital tech solutions to climate data. The CAD2.0 workgroup held several events at the COP-26 Glasgow climate talks in early November, and released a declaration for individuals and organizations to work together to apply next-generation tools to facilitate a digitally-enabled global stocktaking process to support the Paris Agreement.

Using EIE’s data and modeling capabilities, DDL’s climate data expertise, and additional collaboration with C-40 Cities and ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, this partnership will allow for a robust and critical assessment of transport-related carbon emissions in the critical age of climate action. The results will be featured on UN Climate Change’s Global Climate Action Portal, which was refreshed and relaunched at the COP26 Glasgow summit and showcases more than 26,000 subnational and private actors pledging climate action. The portal was refreshed to allow for regular updates of progress tracking metrics.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer to bring tracking climate action into the 21st century. Existing modes of self-reported data are inadequate for achieving a full picture of cities’ contributions to global climate mitigation. This collaboration will be a huge step forward in allowing everyone, from citizens to policymakers, understand who is following through on their pledges and how much more work is needed to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change,” said Angel Hsu, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and the Environment and DDL’s Director.

For questions, media inquiries, or more information, contact Kayla Guilliams at

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