The city using Google tools for environmental education

Since launching Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) in 2018, my team and I have seen how data can help local governments develop relevant climate plans.

EIE is a free tool designed to help measure emission sources and identify strategies to reduce emissions. In Pune City, India, the local government has used data from EIE to better analyze trip emissions. In Australia, Ironbark Sustainability and Beyond Zero Emissions have developed Snapshot Climate, a community climate tool that incorporates EIE transportation and emissions data — and shares it with local councils and other organizations across the country.

So far, over 320 cities worldwide have made their data available for the public to view through the platform — including West Nusa Tenggara, in Indonesia, the first place in Southeast Asia to adopt EIE.

While we have seen how EIE has helped cities shape their efforts to reduce emissions using data, that’s not the only benefit that the tool offers. Cities like Yokohama in Japan are also using it to educate their citizens.

I wanted to learn more about this initiative — so in the lead-up to Earth Day this week, I sat down with Hiroki Miyajima, the Executive Director of the General Affairs Department in the International Affairs Bureau of the City of Yokohama.

Hiroki-san, it’s wonderful to know that Yokohama City uses Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE). What motivated the city to use this tool?

I was introduced to EIE back in 2020 and found it to be an excellent tool with visual capabilities and accessible simulation features for us to understand our city better. As we already had data on greenhouse gas emissions, I saw the tool as a great way to build awareness around sustainability among our citizens.

Households in Yokohama generate about 25% of our current CO2 emissions. With our mayor having announced a goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030, we need to encourage our citizens to change their behavior as we work towards decarbonization. That starts with education, in particular for children and young people: our next generation. We’ve begun incorporating EIE into education programs from junior high school to universities. By exploring EIE, these students can visualize and better understand the impacts of CO2 emissions.

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