In focus: Space and Sustainability

Ahead of COP26 ADS is running an ‘In Focus: Countdown to COP26’ blog series, helping you make sense of the work the aerospace, defence and space sectors are undertaking to tackle climate change and deliver net zero by 2050. This blog was written by Bhavin Vyas, Head of Space and Andy Phillips, Aerospace Policy Advisor and focuses on UK Space and sustainability.

The space sector has an important role to play in achieving these ambitious sustainability goals. The technology developed by UK space companies, from larger innovators such as  Airbus and Thales right down to the growing SME community in areas such as Scotland, will play a key role in climate knowledge, science, monitoring, and early warning. By assessing the vulnerability of communities to climate change and monitoring the effectiveness of adaptation strategies, space-based technologies can help advance the UK on the road to net zero by 2050.  

Last month the Government launched its long-awaited National Space Strategy  which highlights the UK’s ambitious plans to build new leadership in high growth areas in the space sector. The Strategy focuses on key areas such as a commitment to use space to help deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which will put the UK at the forefront of meeting the needs of our planet and its people.  

The Government’s Net Zero Strategy launched this week also highlights the importance of space in reaching our net zero goals. It sets out a strategic focus of the Government’s National Space Strategy: to utilise space technology in the fight against climate change. Satellites provide an extraordinary insight into our climate and environment and enable us to understand and monitor how climate change is impacting the Earth. UK industry will strive to remain at the forefront of Earth Observation (EO) technology and know-how. This supports the Government’s ambition to be a global science and technology superpower, and to lead the world in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. 

The European Space Agency (ESA) also recognises the benefits which space-based technologies can deliver to tackle climate change challenges. For example, in 2020 the ESA and Airbus UK signed a contract for the TRUTHS satellite mission to establish a climate and calibration observing system to improve confidence in climate-change forecasts highlighting the UK’s leading technologies in this field. By participating in programmes such as TRUTHS and Copernicus, the world’s leading global EO programme, and working with partners in the ESA, the UK space sector will continue to drive the sustainability agenda in the UK, Europe and across the world.  

The gathering of UK and global leaders in our sectors at ADS’ pre-COP26 event on October 26 will be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate clear progress on sustainability. Through panel discussions featuring global CTOs, industry perspectives and future leaders, alongside a technology showcase exhibiting the latest technology from ADS members in the sustainability field, our event will set the tone ahead of COP26 in Glasgow the following week.