Cisco, NASA launch climate monitoring venture

COPENHAGEN Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:20am EST

The sun sets over a smoking power plant near the venue of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen December 12, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

The sun sets over a smoking power plant near the venue of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen December 12, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Charisius

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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Technology firm Cisco Systems and the NASA space agency launched a $100 million plan on Tuesday to monitor the earth's resources, aiming to boost transparency of national commitments under a new climate treaty.

World leaders and ministers from more than 190 countries are meeting this week, trying to agree the outline of a new climate pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

Proof of compliance with many commitments under a new deal, for example to cut carbon emissions and preserve forests, will depend on more sophisticated data monitoring than available now.

The aim of the Planetary Skin Institute is to help existing public and private, academic and government institutions share their data and analysis, for example through new online resources.

"A lot of information is available but it's highly fractured, in a thousand different formats and a thousand different places," said Cisco's Juan Carlos Castilla-Rubio.

"Over the next three years we need at least $100 million to make it work. We have commitments of over half (and) expect to hit the target in the next month."

The non-profit joint venture would aim to boost monitoring of carbon, food systems and water scarcity.

For example it could integrate existing satellite-based and ground monitoring measurements of the carbon locked in rainforests.

That may make it simpler for tropical countries to claim rewards for storing forest carbon as proposed under a new climate deal.

A global network would be made up of seven hubs in Brazil, India, China, Africa, Japan, the European Union and the United States.

"The idea is to be open as possible," said Castilla-Rubio. "We're trying to develop an environment which allows people to get together and distribute (data and analysis)."

(Reporting by Gerard Wynn, Editing by Dominic Evans)

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