On the eve of the One Planet Summit in France on Tuesday, representatives from space agencies around the world met at the French National Centre for Space Studies and adopted the Paris Declaration, which proposes setting up a Space Climate Observatory to pool climate data from space satellites and make them available to scientists around the world.
Meeting the night before the One Planet Summit kicked off in Paris on Tuesday, the heads of space agencies from around the world met at the headquarters of the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) to discuss climate monitoring from space. This is more important than it might sound at first. Of the 50 essential climate variables (ECVs) defined by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), 26 of them can only be measured from space, elevating the importance of climate science at space agencies from around the world.
Space agencies have already made several similar declarations over the past few years to back up global climate targets. The Mexico Declaration on climate and natural disasters of 2015 was signed to confirm that “satellite observations are the key element of a global measuring system aimed at verifying the reality of commitments taken in line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).” A year later, space agencies signed the New Delhi Declaration on greenhouse gases which called for space-based operational tools to monitor greenhouse gas emissions. And following the COP22 held in Marrakesh in 2016, space agencies signed the Marrakesh Declaration on the water cycle.
The new Paris Declaration proposes to set up a Space Climate Observatory (SCO) to pool climate data collected by space agencies and make them available to scientists around the world. The Declaration also seeks to commit agencies to activities such as increasing observations of key climate variables and validating the data. The space agencies have also agreed to free and open data policies as well as satellite data products that can be used by scientists, businesses, and governments across the globe.
“Tackling climate change is the main challenge facing us in the 21st century,” explained CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall after the meeting.
“To meet this challenge, our societies must work together to contain global warming well below two degrees with respect to pre-industrial levels, and to win the battle to save our planet. That’s why CNES has made climate action its priority.
“The Paris Declaration we have just adopted proposes to set up a Space Climate Observatory that will act as a hub between space agencies and the international scientific community. Two years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement at COP21, I’m glad to see that climate issues are still at the centre of debate thanks to the ambition and determination of President Macron, who has been the prime mover behind the One Planet Summit being held tomorrow here in Paris.”
“The UK is working with international organisations to encourage the use of space data and technology to tackling climate change,” said Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency Graham Turnock, who signed the agreement in Paris. “It’s important we come together and agree to work towards improving the quality and sustainability of climate data from space and ensuring it is made freely available to researchers around the world.”
According to the AFP, representatives from space agencies in attendance and which adopted the Paris Declaration included China, Japan, India, Europe, Britain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Israel, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates. Not attending the meeting in Paris were representatives from the Russian space agency or from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).