Google’s online tool to provide UK cities with climate-relevant data

The Environmental Insights Explorer uses unique Google data sources and modelling capabilities to produce estimates of emissions and renewable energy potential

Google has announced it is expanding an online tool to help 100 cities across the UK identify and act upon new climate-relevant data.

The Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) uses unique Google data sources and modelling capabilities to produce estimates of activity, emissions and reductions as well as renewable energy potential, with the data freely available.

Google is now working to expand the EIE to 100 areas across the UK, including Kent, Newcastle, Glasgow and Belfast, helping more cities to access the data and take informed action to reduce their carbon footprint – as cities account for more than 70% of global emissions.

Tom Warburton, Newcastle City Council’s Director of City Futures welcomed the news and believes there is “enormous potential” for the platform to engage people across the city in learning more about the sources of emissions.

He added: “As a city council, we have put climate change at the heart of our decision-making and are looking at how we can work together with businesses, organisations, communities and schools across the city to become carbon neutral by 2030.

“It is incumbent upon us all to tackle the climate emergency and Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer gives us a great opportunity to improve our own modelling and target the areas where we can most effectively drive the changes that need to happen to reach our goal.”

The EIE has so far officially published data for 100 cities but the team has processed climate-relevant data across an initial sample of 3,000 cities to produce emission insights from around 95 million buildings.

It found if all the 3,000 cities maximise their solar energy potential, they could generate more than 1,000GW of renewable power.

Rebecca Moore, Director, Google Earth, Earth Engine & Outreach said: “Data-driven solutions are key to unlocking the climate challenge and many cities lack the resources to gather the data on their own. 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.

“We’re working on bringing EIE to many more cities around the world and we’re excited about helping more local city government teams create a healthier, cleaner future for their citizens and for the planet.”

Google’s philanthropic arm and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, a global network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments, are also launching a £3 million Environmental Action Fund.

It will support local organisations working in their communities to take action based on the newly-available EIE data and will be open to non-profits and academic institutions in Europe, who can use data to drive action towards environmental sustainability.

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