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NPL joined the UK Space Agency delegation at COP28

5 minute read

The 28th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP28) was hosted by the UAE in Dubai 30 Nov – 12 Dec 2023. COP28 is the first such running with a dedicated Space Pavilion (organised by the host UAE space agency) promoting what Space and EO data, in particular, can contribute to action on climate change. Many of the world’s space agencies have enhanced their efforts this year hosting stands, events, panel discussions and presentations to showcase their work. Space4Climate, a UK umbrella organisation that supports the UK’s world-leading climate science and services community had a ‘green zone’ stand throughout the conference, where two missions that NPL are heavily involved in – TRUTHS and MicroCarb were blazoned across the walls, alongside BIOMASS. The videos on loop on the background screen included contributions from NPL on TRUTHS, MicroCarb and the STAR-cc-OGSE facility, meanwhile the pufferfish (fancy data projection globe) highlighted these missions alongside the work NPL’s Climate and Earth Observation (CEO) group is doing as part of the EO Climate Information System (EO CIS) project. 

Amongst a busy schedule of activities, there were four events where NPL took centre stage.Picture1-(1).jpg

On the 3rd December the ‘Climate action from the TRUTHS satellite mission’ event, led by Paul Bate, the Head of the UK Space Agency (UKSA), included video contributions from all the contributing space agencies (UK, Spain, Romania, Greece, Switzerland and Czech), with NPL’s Nigel Fox speaking about the concept and impact of the TRUTHS mission for the UK.  In-person contributions came from senior representative of ESA, NASA, UKSA, Airbus UK and Teledyne before the formal signing of the phase B2/advC TRUTHS contract between ESA and Airbus UK.

Caption: The Space4Climate stand Credit: Space4ClimatePicture2.jpg

On the 4th December the ‘Monitoring Methane from Space: Towards an Internationally Recognised Standard’ event, again led by Paul Bate (UKSA, CEO) showcased a NPL-led initiative to develop pragmatic standards for satellite-derived methane standards. Beth Greenaway (UKSA head of EO) started with an overview followed by Paul Palmer (University of Edinburgh) who set the scientific scene highlighting recent rises in methane concentrations globally. The event continued with presentations from ESA and JAXA on their methane programmes, as well as GHGSat and Kayross with the commercial sector perspective, before I had the opportunity to make the case for standards and their timely need before outlining a route ahead. The event was an excellent opportunity to make the case and resulted in some key stakeholders agreeing to join the initiative and followed the earlier (that day) Space Leader’s summit and signing of the Space Pledge, where the development of EO data standards, with a specific reference to methane standards, as one of the key clauses. 

Caption image right: ‘Climate action from the TRUTHS satellite mission’ contributors. Left to Right: Antonino Spatola (Teledyne), Beth Greenaway (UKSA), David Masterson (Airbus UK), Simonetta Cheli (ESA), Paul Bate (UKSA), Karen St.Germain (NASA), Donna Lyndsay (OS), Rune Floberghagen (ESA). Credit: Space4Climate

On the 6th December, the UKSA hosted the ‘Role of Long-term, Trustworthy Climate Data from Space in a Record-breaking Year, Now and in the Future’ event, posing the question of the role of trusted  EO data in a year of record breaking temperatures. This panel discussion included representatives from UKSA, CNES, UK government, industry and academia. I represented TRUTHS and the wider work NPL is doing on EO data quality and interoperability and was given the opportunity to explain the impact of TRUTHS, how it will allow a 10x improvement in satellite cross-calibration and the benefits of this step change in capability after TRUTH’s launch in 2030.   Picture3.jpg

On the 10th December, Space4Climate hosted the ‘The Power of Space to Protect & Restore our Natural World’ event at the UK Pavilion coordinated by UKSA, DSIT & DEFRA. Marco Lambertini (WWF) introduced how nature is a key partner in our climate aims, not just a canvas on which our actions manifest. Heiko Balzter outlined practical EO forest data uses including a project where real time forest alerts to the Kenyan authorities have dramatically reduced illegal deforestation and Donna Lyndsay outlined the fundamental role of geospatial information on all our climate efforts and went on to highlight how the TRUTHS and methane standards initiatives, led by NPL are great examples of innovation in this space. The event was followed by a reception in the UK pavilion where we heard from Steve Barclay, the DEFRA secretary of state before an excellent opportunity to network with UK and overseas partners.

COP is a unique conference, covering a broad range of interests around climate and international efforts to reduce the scale and effects from a changing climate. It was a true learning experience and it has been a real opportunity to attend as part of the UK delegation.

Caption image left: Paul Green presenting in the ‘Monitoring Methane from Space: Towards an Internationally Recognised Standard’ event. Credit: UAE space agency.

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13 Dec 2023