The European parliament declared a climate emergency ahead of the latest UN COP25 Climate Change Conference taking place over the next two weeks in Madrid. The 12-day summit will focus on encouraging governments to increase their commitments to combatting climate change. ESA is present highlighting the vital importance of observing our changing world from space and showing how data from satellites play a critical role in underpinning climate policy.
With more evidence of the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and the highest emissions of greenhouse gases, this year’s COP25 is referred to as the ‘Time for Action’ COP owing to the need for all countries to expand their commitments to limit global warming.
With more than 20 000 participants from governments, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies and NGOs participating, COP25 will be one of the most important events leading to the defining year 2020 – when many nations will submit new climate action plans.
COP25 will address a vast array of topics including impact on Antarctica and the Arctic, oceans and seas, biodiversity, ecosystems and forests and renewable energies. For many of these topics, data from Earth observation is essential.
Europe is a world leader in observing Earth from space. ESA’s Earth Explorer research missions along with the Copernicus Sentinel missions, developed with the European Commission, provide a wealth of information and will pave new ways in understanding specific aspects of our climate.
These observations provide us with a global coverage, revisiting the same region every few days and proving a good understanding of the health and behaviour of our planet – and how it is affected by climate change.
Together, their data are used to ‘take the pulse of our planet,’ and provide key information on which mitigating strategies and policies can be based. Earth observation has not only revolutionised the way we perceive our planet, but it has also changed the way we comprehend our profound impact on the environment.
Satellites provide unprecedented information on the retreat of glaciers, sea level rise, the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and deforestation worldwide. ESA will address some of these issues at COP25 at its ESA exhibit and dedicated side events.
At last week’s ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, Member States whole-heartedly endorsed ESA’s activities and invested significantly in Earth observation programmes.
The increased budget will allow for the development, for example, of six new high-priority Copernicus missions, one of which that will track global carbon dioxide emissions.
Josef Aschbacher, director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes comments, “This is the highest subscription that our Earth observation programme has ever seen. It is a clear signal that our Member States have serious concerns about the environment and climate change and that space has a major role in understanding and addressing the challenges that humanity faces.
“We really hope that COP25 conference succeeds in gaining further commitments to tackling the climate crisis. We are ready to deliver the hard facts required to tackle the challenge.”