As measured by abundant scientific data, the climate is undergoing quick and alarming transformations: temperatures are rising, rainfall patterns are shifting, glaciers and ice caps are melting, and the global sea level is increasing as biodiversity is depleting. These changes are mostly due to greenhouse gases emitted through transport, land use and use of energies. The EU is tackling these environmental challenges with the implementation of the Green Deal, a guiding document that paves the way towards a sustainable economy in the future. It sets concrete targets not only to protect the environment but also to build a greener economy that manages the Earth’s resources in a sustainable way.
The EU’s Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus programmes continuously and accurately gather data that contributes to the production of essential climate variables monitoring the state of the climate. Not only can space data help to adapt to climate change but also mitigate its effects in Europe.
These long-time, high-quality and verified data sets are accessible to everyone for free and represent a valuable resource to underpin the green ecological transition.
The Copernicus programme provides real-time and forecast information products, as well as informed mapping products such as land use and land cover that empower citizens, entrepreneurs, researchers and public authorities in order to find data-driven innovative solutions and take responsible action for a more sustainable future. It pervades numerous sectors such as agriculture, biodiversity protection and renewable energy development, making informed decisions possible, contributing to zero pollution, clean energy and to the objectives of the Farm to Fork strategy.
The EU Space data and information can help to:
- Identify traffic jams, reduce travelling time and optimise travelling routes with Galileo;
- Enable efficient placement of renewable energy infrastructure and predict energy generation thanks to ocean, wind and waves forecasting and monitoring, solar radiations analysis by Copernicus. Examples: solar panel installation, potential areas for wind farm development and forecasts on the amount of power wind turbines can draw on;
- Support the implementation of smart grids with Galileo’s precise synchronisation services, increase safety and reduce the costs of energy infrastructure management;
- Target concentration of population, congestion, housing for improved urban planning and a decrease in negative environmental effects. Satellite images can be used to determine urban spaces suitable for sustainable energy creation or for fostering biodiversity and to identify potential urban mines for raw materials for a circular economy. Population density can be accurately assessed and mapped, yielding vital information to help underpin the modal shift of transport in urban areas towards more sustainable transport and smart mobility;
- Support the development of a sharing economy, and products-as-a-service applications, with Galileo;
- Assess alternative scenarios and compare the efficiency of different emission reduction policies thanks to monitoring tools and long-time series of information accessible both in the past and as projections in the future;
- Provide extensive information for the marine renewable energy sector to support plant siting and optimisation of the production at sea for many of emerging European technologies such as tidal energies and thermal energies;
- Improve efficiency of building and renovating: monitor the effects of heat islands in cities so as to identify priority areas where renovation and mitigation measures against local (over)heating is needed;
- As part of the circular economy, contribute to a reduced resource usage and sustainable raw material supply chains – tracking products during their life-cycle −, monitoring mining sites and encouraging a sharing economy (with Galileo tracking).
Copernicus has been active since the earliest days to monitor pollution from different sources. As the world’s largest satellite image generator, Copernicus has proved a key tool in fighting pollution.
- CAMS provides daily air quality forecasts worldwide that public and private entities can use to identify citizens’ exposure to pollutants such as aerosols and particulate matters but also inform air traffic control in case of major aerosols ejected from volcanoes;
- Copernicus also monitors the air quality for health prevention and provides daily air quality bulletins in the news for citizens.
- EMSA monitors oil pollution, detecting oil spills, trying to identify polluters and contributing to the real time monitoring and drift of the pollution to support emergency operations;
- CMEMS is dealing daily with water quality tracking and forecasting pollutants such as nitrates, phosphates and iron at sea coming from land and specially along coasts but also organic pollution, like algae blooms, on the rise with global warming and water eutrophication;
- A CLMS lake water quality product is being developed to better monitor water pollution (and in line with WFD);
Copernicus’ annual European State of the Climate report and monthly Climate Bulletins of Climate Data Store extensively show how key climate change indicators (sunshine, vegetation, sea ice…) vary over time with maps and analyses.
The Ocean State Report published annually also provides, together with monthly ocean monitoring indicators, information on the oceans’ health but also on marine heat waves, impacts on fish stock, trends in Arctic and Antarctic or impacts of storm surges along coasts over decades.
Copernicus is key for monitoring climate change by producing, at global level and according to recognised international programmes and methodologies, essential climate variables that describe climate in time. Both past and future data are studied by Copernicus and fully made available to everyone on a free and open basis. Seasonal and centennial projections are available, along with decades of climate records.
Copernicus is a high-end machinery that is able to simulate the Earth system and help develop what-if scenarios for the IPCC and policy-makers to prepare to the transitions brought by the Green deal.
EU Space data are also used to support and improve biodiversity and ecosystem management of fauna and flora on land and at sea. They particularly contribute by:
- Assessing the state of flora and fauna and monitoring biodiversity by tracking migratory species on land and at sea;
- Providing forest images that enable to detect fires, forest types and changes over time, assess their density and health, including for Natura 2000 protected areas. Space images also support the fight against deforestation by identifying illegal logging activities;
- Helping implement highly accurate water monitoring systems thanks to consistent observations of the water cycle;
- Describing the ocean environment and health to help plan and manage marine protected areas, support the common fishery policy by defining fishing areas and periods and closures favourable to fish reproduction;
- Offering a clear view of inland waterways so as to identify water quality parameters, which help ensure high quality ecosystem services that are vital for human consumption, irrigation, sanitation, transportation, recreation and industry.
The EU Space Programme directly supports over 20 Green Deal actions and has already helped to drastically bring down CO2 emissions and greatly limit the EU’s carbon footprint.
The civil aeronautics industry has been particularly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and is challenged by the transition to carbon neutrality. DG DEFIS will intensify the dialogue with industry and regulators on a coordinated policy response, putting the aeronautics industry on a path towards quick recovery and sustainable growth.
In the area of defence industry, the European Defence Fund Regulation allows funding topics for defence-oriented solutions contributing to energy resilience and the reduction of the defence environmental and carbon footprint.