European Parliament Sky and Space Intergroup Discusses Space-Based Solutions to Tackle Change

  • November 26, 2015

November 26, 2015 – ASD-Eurospace welcomes the initiative of the European Parliament’s Sky and Space Intergroup (SSI) to organise a high-level event last week enabling MEPs, representatives from the European Institutions and the Industry, as well as various stakeholders from Permanent Representations to the EU and the scientific world, to discuss concrete solutions that space systems can bring in the elaboration of climate adaptation and mitigation policies in order to meet international climate goals.

Monika Hohlmeier MEP, President of the Sky and Space Intergroup and Moderator, emphasised the huge importance of enabling monitoring and measuring of greenhouse gas emissions and the subsequent climate policy-making to be based on European sources of data. Within that context, satellites and space assets provide key tools to obtain and analyse data for decreasing carbon emissions. Climate change is a challenge for which Europe has to be able to give itself the means of its ambitions. She stressed the importance to have the support of the European Parliament in this endeavour.

Marco Fuchs, President of ASD-Eurospace and CEO of OHB, emphasised that climate change is “a technological challenge, calling for a need to quickly set up new standards and conceive new capacities; a political challenge calling for bold decisions up the to the stakes, and an industrial challenge, requiring to swiftly implement these decisions.” Since “no global monitoring is possible without space resources”, Europe needs independent access to information to support its autonomous decision making processes. Mr Fuchs added that the European space industry is ready to deliver, and looks forward to ambitious initiatives and bold decisions to be taken during the COP21.

Jan Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency, highlighted that climate change adaptation and mitigation is a global challenge and space is the most adequate sector to provide efficient support. Mr Wörner stressed the importance of data preservation for an independent and coherent assessment of climate change and called for the creation of a “United Space in Europe” which would enable global cooperation between all European Space partners. This would push for global data exchange and reinforce the role of Space as a catalyst for developing, implementing and monitoring policies in Europe and worldwide.

Hugo Zunker, Policy Officer at DG GROW and technical coordinator of the EC Report on CO2 Monitoring, speaking in the name of Philippe Brunet, Director for Space at DG GROW, European Commission, reminded participants that the “fight against climate change is one of the top priorities of the European Union”. He highlighted the role played by space observations and the Copernicus services in EU policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Mr Zunker stressed the importance of securing sustainable funds for Copernicus, notably to develop a future European emissions monitoring capacity by 2030. The Copernicus Climate Change service is meant to become the authoritative source for climate information in Europe and beyond.

According to Alain Ratier, Director General at EUMETSAT, understanding the effects of fossil emissions on climate is a scientific challenge, and should not be limited to CO2, but to a set of greenhouse gas emissions. Europe, Mr Ratier insisted, has the capability to be a leader in this domain, even if other Space powers have already developed their own dedicated Space missions. He supported the idea of having a European demonstration satellite in Space for carbon monitoring, but underlined the need to have an end-to-end integrated monitoring system, including in situ observations and modelling capacities.

Philippe Ciais, Research Director at the Laboratory for Climate and Environment Sciences (LSCE) and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), presented the European Commission’s recent Copernicus report on CO2 monitoring that he coordinated. He explained that true independent data is needed to establish baselines and trends on both natural and anthropogenic emissions. Mr Ciais specified that satellites with imaging capabilities, with high accuracy and spatial resolution, along with complementary in situ measurement systems, will be able to quantify the emissions from “hotspots”. A first European satellite mission should be launched before 2025. Implementing such a monitoring system would lead to economic and political spin-offs and put Europe in a leading position.

The European Space industry stands ready and looks forward to being challenged on the future environmental and industrial ambitions of the EU.