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Measurements from space are critical to understanding the changing climate, and its impacts on societies and economies. The World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC) provides a systematic mapping of global greenhouse gas emissions capabilities from space across public- and private-sectors missions and its report illustrates the immense potential for similar analyses for other climate parameters.
As mentioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global community needs to take urgent, and collective action on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions to stay within the planetary boundaries, and limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius.
Data and knowledge of global greenhouse gas emissions, and other parameters indicative of climate change are becoming key levers to support national and international climate policymaking. Public- and private- sector efforts are essential to collect and maintain accurate and relevant datasets on all scales to unlock climate action.
To facilitate climate action, we need a more comprehensive understanding of current capabilities, and the overall impact of ongoing and planned mitigation efforts. Earth observations, notably satellite-based observations, provide a means to not only collect data in remote and hard-to-access geographical areas, but also to provide consistent global data that cuts across all geographies. In this regard, Earth observations are incredibly useful in monitoring and reporting on change over time.
As the field is rapidly evolving through advancing technologies and data processing innovations, satellites are increasingly capable of measuring changes on the Earth’s surface with precision in both time and space.
Hence these data can support policymakers in the establishment of National climate policies.
Over the past several decades, the space community has provided extensive support on these fronts. Governments and public entities have supported space-based monitoring by launching and financing satellite missions to collect national global baseline data. Through open access to these data, academia, government, and commercial entities have provided essential assessment functions to the broader community.
As part of the evolution of space-based data, the private sector has taken on an increasingly significant role. Numerous missions are currently in development, which will further drive innovation and new findings in the field.
To benefit from the rapidly increasing space-based monitoring capabilities, governments and the commercial sector must focus on innovation, financing and, more importantly, collaboration, data sharing and cooperative knowledge creation.
The World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC), with its focus on climate change, worked on a research report – “Greenhouse gas Monitoring from Space: A mapping of capabilities across public, private and hybrid missions” and was jointly undertaken by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), WattTime and WGIC.
The report represents the first systematic effort to assess the current and upcoming satellite missions to measure greenhouse gas emissions to meet the global temperature goal under two degrees Celsius.
The database of greenhouse gas monitoring capabilities from space identified a total of 32 relevant satellite missions and instruments both in orbit and in development provided by public, private and not-for-profit entities. These missions will contribute to National greenhouse gas Inventories.
Several key messages, as well as a commitment to prepare the above-mentioned report emerged from the dialogue.
Firstly, no single country, organization, or sector can, alone, adequately address the challenges of the Earth’s changing climate. We must work together in a coordinated manner to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Secondly, over the last several decades, public-sector space agencies have made tremendous strides in observing Greenhouse Gases from space. We are now seeing the private sector bring additional observational capabilities to bear, as well as the emergence of hybrid missions evolving from public-private partnerships and philanthropies -- all of which need to be communicated, endorsed, and expanded if we as a global community are to advance climate action.
While it is important to recognize that observations from the ground will continue to play an essential role in climate studies, space-based observations are the only realistic means for acquiring globally consistent observations.
WGIC’s 30+ Members are private companies from around the world who are increasingly expanding their ‘social business enterprise’ offerings for climate action.
While WGIC finances itself only through memberships (no donations are possible), the NGO needs your support to spread the word about its necessary climate actions: developing collaborative partnerships and enabling geospatial knowledge exchange to make meaningful progress for our planet and our people.
Partners : GEO, WattTime, WGIC, ITU, ISO, UN Statistic Division, Open Geospatial Consortium, WFEO, European Agency for Space Programme, BuildingSMART Int