Energy, Climate & Environment

How do we verify compliance with our hard-won climate treaties?

As of May, 2017, about 90 percent of all countries around the world have committed to the ambitious Paris Agreement to combat global climate change. The shared goal is to rein in greenhouse gas emissions enough to maintain global temperatures just two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But how to confirm that countries are maintaining their pledges, and how can they be encouraged to do better than their pledges? Berkeley climate modeler Inez Fung is part of an international scientific team refining the detection skills of the new Orbiting Carbon Observatory  2, launched in 2014. The powerful mathematical analysis tools that Fung’s group has developed use the satellite observations of carbon dioxide around the globe to determine if actual emissions match a country’s pledged target.  “Trust but verify” is the only viable strategy, Fung says.

Keywords/Tags: Paris Agreement, climate change, country's pledge, Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2

Inez FungInez Fung

Inez develops and applies global numerical models to unravel the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide, methane, dust and other trace substances around the globe. She is on the science team of the satellite Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, launched in July 2014, that measures the abundance of CO2 from space. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, she is a subject in the Academy’s recent biography series "Women's Adventures in Science." Read more about Inez Fung