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02 November 2021

Policymakers to Gain Access to Real-Time Data and Forecasts about Local Impacts of Climate Change and Air Pollution

Leading scientific societies back initiative to provide local governments with “actionable science”

WASHINGTON - For the first time, a new initiative will give local policymakers access to critical real-time greenhouse gas (GHG) and pollution emission data and accurate model forecasts. Leading scientific societies Optica (formerly OSA) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) are spearheading this effort to provide “actionable science” to local and regional policymakers as part of their Global Environmental Measurement & Monitoring (GEMM) collaboration.

“This initiative addresses a crucial need - to bridge the gap between science and policy, at the local level, directly in the cities and towns where the policies needed to limit the magnitude of climate change and reduce air pollution will have the greatest impact,” said GEMM Initiative Chair and Stanford Professor Tom Baer.

On 03 November 2021, the societies are hosting a summit in collaboration with the City of Glasgow, Cities are the Key to the Climate Solution: Meeting Global Greenhouse Gases and Air Quality Targets Through Real-Time Measurement. The summit will be held during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and will showcase how new, low-cost technologies and methodologies can provide localized real-time emissions measurements for cities and regions.

New networks of real-time, low-cost, direct, ground-level observations of GHGs and air pollutants can provide immediate feedback to measure progress toward achieving urban air quality and emission goals. They also help identify and address air quality inequities in neighborhoods and communities. Localized urban networks can be integrated with longer-term, broad-area data from satellites and other observing systems to create more accurate climate and air quality maps and models for regions, states and nations.

“The GEMM Initiative delivers data to validate and improve forecasts and models for science-based policy and science-informed policymakers,” said Optica CEO Elizabeth Rogan. “Data derived from this project opens a window to local air quality and local emissions critical to human health and climate change on all scales.”  

“Knowledge is the first step to finding actionable solutions,” said AGU CEO Randy W. Fiser. “GEMM is an important initiative for scientists and leaders from cities to learn and find pathways to reducing greenhouse gas emissions together. Lowering barriers between researchers and the public is our best, most just, strategy to navigate the oncoming environmental upheaval of human-caused climate change.”

Through the GEMM Initiative, Optica and AGU are working closely with the City of Glasgow on the GEMM Urban Air Project and in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde, University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, the Met Office and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). Launched in 2020, the GEMM Urban Air Project will combine GHG and air pollution emissions observations and climate models with economic models specific to each city’s economy.

The GEMM Initiative is exploring additional regional centers to improve data availability, forecasting, instrumentation, and ultimately, policy decisions. The Initiative welcomes discussions with interested parties around the world.

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About AGU

AGU ( supports 130,000 enthusiasts to experts worldwide in Earth and space sciences. Through broad and inclusive partnerships, we advance discovery and solution science that accelerate knowledge and create solutions that are ethical, unbiased and respectful of communities and their values. Our programs include serving as a scholarly publisher, convening virtual and in-person events and providing career support. We live our values in everything we do, such as our net zero energy renovated building in Washington, D.C. and our Ethics and Equity Center, which fosters a diverse and inclusive geoscience community to ensure responsible conduct.

About Optica

Optica, Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica's renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement. Discover more at:  

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