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Millions of protestors rallied last Friday at the Global Climate Strike, demanding action ahead of today’s UN Climate Action Summit.
At Quorso, rather than joining those on the streets, we decided to take action ourselves and put our performance improvement platform to work, analyzing the carbon emissions data of 200 countries to find intelligent opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries agreed to limit warming to as close to 1.5°C as possible, and are gradually committing to reaching net-zero before 2050.
But we are already at 1°C of warming and, with a heightened awareness of the impact on ecosystem degradation and galvanized by movements like #Fridays4Future and Extinction Rebellion, the public are demanding that their governments ramp up ambition and action, aiming for net-zero by 2030 or even 2025.
Annual global emissions in 2017 were 36.2 GtCO₂, and are estimated by Global Carbon Project to have gone up another 2% to 37.1 GtCO₂ in 2018.
Quorso is all about making big challenges like this actionable. Our software is used by companies to help identify and act on the best opportunities to improve their business performance, measuring impact and scaling best practice as they go.
For phase one we ingested CO₂ emissions data by country and sector from 1970–2017. The data came from the EDGAR dataset, produced by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC) and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), and curated by Open Climate Data.
Quorso then automatically ran a granular variance analysis to identify the biggest opportunities to reduce emissions in each of the 208 countries.
Countries were analyzed in three comparable clusters, according to grouping used by the UNFCCC:
This chart shows a long-term reduction trend in Buildings emissions in the UK. From 2014 onwards though, most countries’ emissions started to rise, but in the UK they continued to fall considerably. If the UK can continue this trajectory, and bring its Buildings emissions in line with the median per-capita for these countries, (where the yellow quartile meets the green quartile), it would reduce annual emissions by 18.5Mt.
So, what do we see when we look for opportunities like this across all 208 countries?
The total aggregate opportunity we found across all 208 countries represents a potential reduction in annual CO₂ emissions of 17.8 Gt.
That means that if every country that is emitting more than average in any sector reduces its emissions to match the average per-capita performance of similar countries, global emissions would be reduced by 52%.
So, yes, current data indicate that a reduction of 3 Gt per year is well within the realms of possibility. There is hope!
It looks like there are huge opportunities globally to reduce emissions across all of these sectors, especially in Power and Industrial Combustion.
That’s only the start of the story though - these are the Quorso Opportunities by region.
And Quorso can keep drilling down – here are the top opportunities in Europe.
We feel this method of analyzing and surfacing carbon emissions data could help authorities determine where to focus attention and how to prioritize action. We're keen to work with partners to explore the power of Quorso to drive mass collaboration and coordination, ultimately making collective action more efficient and easier.
Quorso can also ingest information about the climate policies, programs, investments and initiatives that countries have enacted, and start to identify what works and what doesn’t.
For example, here is the impact on UK emissions since it passed the 2008 Climate Act.
UK emissions fell from 526 Mt to 379 Mt between 2008 and 2017, an absolute reduction of 157 Mt in annual CO₂ emissions. Clearly it took a few years to ramp up, but then it started having a real impact.
These improvement numbers, if you sum them up, show us that 65 Mt of those emission reductions were above and beyond what the rest of the Annex I countries achieved.
Could structuring carbon emissions data like this help us identify and spread best practices?
This is just the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended). As we start drilling down into the rest of the data countries have submitted to the UNFCCC, we will surface much more granular opportunities.
Whether you’re a climate expert, policy writer, NGO worker, student, sustainability champion or data geek – we would love to invite you to log in and explore the data with us, critique it, and work together to turn this into something that truly helps drive action.
The upcoming months and years ahead are critical for accelerating climate change action in a data-driven and intelligent way. At Quorso we are determined to use our technology for good and help make this happen.