UK and UN enter partnership for space-based climate action

A joint partnership will see the UK Space Agency and the UN collaborate in a project for space-based climate action.

A novel project to map existing work tackling climate change through the application of space technology and determine what advancements can be made was launched this month by the UK Space Agency and United Nations at COP26.

Reviewing space-based climate action

The UK government’s National Space Strategy, which was revealed in September, sets out the UK’s ambitious plans to utilise space technology for climate action. Now, the UK Space Agency will collaborate with the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) on a new review of current activity on climate action using space technology.

The objective is to come up with a strategic view of climate activities being undertaken in space on a scale currently unheard of and, through this, enhance policy coherence across relevant international organisations.

The novel review is due to begin in December and is projected to provide a detailed overview of space-based climate action being conducted and raise awareness of those opportunities to support actions while encouraging collaboration.

UK leads the way

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, commented: “The UK is leading the way in using satellites to monitor and tackle climate change and we are building trusted relationships between the UK space sector and international partners.

“We’ve seen throughout COP26 how satellites are being used to measure carbon emissions, monitor deforestation and improve climate models that inform international action. This new project with UNOOSA will map this existing work and investigate what more can be done to strengthen the space sector’s contribution to tackling our planet’s biggest global challenge.”

Towards a net-zero future

Simonetta Di Pippo, Director, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, added: “Space activities have transformed the way humanity perceives and understands planet Earth, rendering them vital for climate science and action. We need to maximise the ambition in utilising space benefits for a better tomorrow.

“At UNOOSA, we are fully committed to reinforcing both direct and indirect contributions of the space sector to a net-zero future. With this initiative proposed by the UK Space Agency, we take our joint commitment to another level. By consolidating and mapping the existing climate activities, we will be much better equipped to move forward in coordinating international efforts and stimulating climate actions.”

In Space We Trust

The announcement was made at the ‘In Space We Trust’ event at COP26, which investigated how space data and technology empower climate action.

Hosted by Space4Climate in partnership with the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, the event, on the Knowledge Transfer Network Space & Geospatial Virtual Pavilion for COP26, gave a platform to speakers from indigenous groups and countries and showcased existing partnerships utilising space for climate action and climate data capacity building, in collaboration with developing economies.

Davis Adieno, Director of Programs at the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, who hosted the event, concluded: “Without a doubt, the world is at a crossroads. The ravaging impacts of climate change have been laid bare for all of us to see wherever we are. But as we agitate for change, we must recognise the steep road towards change is not easy but is scalable. We have a great opportunity to act now and act at an unprecedented scale through international collaboration to accelerate progress in delivering world climate summit ambitions.”

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