The Global Carbon Surveillance State Is Coming

One of the most fascinating developments from this year’s major climate conference, COP27, is a new online tool released by the nonprofit coalition Climate Trace that allows us to see emissions in near-real time. The point of the Climate Trace project is to bring estimates for emissions down to the level of individual polluting facilities. Examining the flow of pollution in a more granular and detailed way does change some features of the carbon landscape in three key ways. To begin with, methane begins to look much more significant. Second, it starts to seem less intuitive that we should build our understanding of emissions and decarbonization around the unit of the nation, rather than on the sub-national distribution of emissions. The emerging surveillance state also points the way to a third change in the way we think about emissions, offering another piece of the emerging framework for global sanctions and climate litigation. 

By David Wallace-Wells. New York Times. November 16, 2022.

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