UK towns and cities to benefit from Google’s climate management tech

Google will enable more than 100 global areas across to access a digital tool which helps towns and cities to measure and reduce their carbon footprint, including major UK cities.

UK towns and cities to benefit from Google’s climate management tech

The EIE uses Google's data sources and technology. Image: Google 

The tech giant is currently working to expand access to its Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) – a digital tool which uses big data to help local authorities and regional governments to measure greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on a city-wide basis. Building and transportation emissions are the main two sources analysed by the EIE.

The EIE then uses this data to run scenario analyses, helping users to visualise future challenges and opportunities, and to develop their own decarbonisation plans. It notably also assesses renewable energy potential.

Google this week unveiled plans to expand the EIE’s reach from 100 cities globally to more than 1,750 local and regional authorities in Europe, including those in Newcastle, Glasgow, Belfast and Kent.

Newcastle and Glasgow’s councils have both notably set net-zero targets for 2030 – 20 years ahead of the UK’s national target.

This EIE expansion will be facilitated through a £3m environmental action fund, jointly contributed to by Google’s philanthropic arm and ICLEI, a network of local governments collaborative to further sustainable development.

Rather than local authorities or businesses, the expanded EIE data will be made available to academic bodies and to non-profits. Google hopes this move will bring about more consistent baselines from which policies can be developed, solutions can be implemented and progress can be measured.

“Data-driven solutions are key to unlocking the climate challenge, and many cities lack the resources to gather the data on their own,” Google Earth’s director of earth engine and outreach Rebecca Moore said.

“When it became clear to us that Google’s comprehensive global mapping data and computing technology could be used to derive critical new climate-relevant knowledge for cities, we committed enthusiastically to this effort.”

According to the UN, more than two-thirds (68%) of the global population will live in cities by mid-century, as megatrends such as global warming and urbanisation continue.

Sarah George

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