Commission joins forces with the ESA on climate action from space


This landmark initiative signifies a firm commitment to advancing our understanding of Earth’s climate system and enhancing our ability to take timely and informed actions to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, particularly encompassing the European Green Deal.

The climate crisis is arguably the greatest global challenge we face today, with far-reaching consequences for our planet’s ecosystems, economies and societies.

As world leaders grapple with the urgency of climate action, the role of space-based technology and data has become increasingly critical.

Access to actionable information is fundamental to fight climate change, to support knowledge-based policies and initiatives and their implementation, and to ensure that this is balanced with sustainable economic development and societal benefits.

ESA and the Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action (CLIMA) are, therefore, seizing the opportunity to harness their combined expertise and resources to bring about transformative change, not least in the context of the EU’s Copernicus space programme and ESA’s Space for a Green Future Accelerator.

Earth-observing satellites and the data they provide already offer the tools and solutions to effectively support, understand, monitor, mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Through Europe’s Copernicus programme, satellites deliver systematic data for a multitude of everyday services that benefit society in many ways.

Here, services include the Climate Change Service. It supports adaptation and mitigation policies of the European Union by providing consistent and authoritative information about climate change.

Its primary objective is to help the European Union achieve its ambitious goal of becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050, as laid out in the European Green Deal.

Multidecadal satellite datasets compiled through ESA’s Climate Change Initiative underpin Essential Climate Variables to support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and provide an impartial yardstick to understand climate processes and identify the impacts of change.

In addition, ESA’s FutureEO programme harnesses novel ideas to develop pioneering satellite missions and concepts, nurturing imaginative new ways of using Earth observation that enables scientific excellence to flourish and address environmental challenges of tomorrow.

While both ESA and the European Union are already actively addressing the climate crisis, more can be done, particularly by better exploiting the transition that the space sector is currently experiencing.

To this end, ESA and CLIMA are reinforcing their cooperation by working together even more closely and looking into more opportunities to use space-based solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation. 

This includes, for example, exploring better monitoring, reporting and verification solutions for greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, detecting methane leaks, identifying specific legislation that could benefit from Earth observation data, helping to identify site locations for renewable energy plants.

The initiative also supports the development of tailormade tools, such as the Green Transition Information Factory, and furthering the European Union’s Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation.

Furthermore, the initiative will seek to assist industries and public organisations from multiple sectors to assess risks and implement decarbonisation strategies.

ESA’s Director General, Josef Aschbacher, said, “The climate crisis is upon us, and we have to act fast and act together for the benefit of Europe and, indeed, the world.

“Through this new initiative, together we will develop a structured cooperation that paves the way for information-sharing, mutual consultations and joint plans.

“Exploiting the complementarity between our respective programmes, together we will advance climate science, support policy implementation and boost green innovation on the road to the European Green Deal and a carbon-neutral future.”

The European Commission’s Director General for Climate Action, Kurt Vandenberghe, added, “Space, and in particular Earth observation, offers a unique perspective on how to tackle climate challenges faced by humanity.

“Space technologies are crucial for reaching climate neutrality and climate resilience by 2050. Through our joint initiative, we are committed to exploring and enhancing opportunities for the development and broader implementation of space-based solutions dedicated to climate action.”

More Information

ESA-DG Climate Action Joint Initiative on Space for Climate Action (opens pdf)

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