Skip navigation.

European Space Agency provides a global perspective of the changing climate from space at COP25, Madrid

ESA is an Observer organisation at the United Nations climate conference (COP 25).

Here, Susanne Mecklenburg, Head of ESA Climate Office, discusses the role of the Agency in advancing the understanding of the planet’s climate, and how it may change in the future today [3 December] in Madrid today.

Interview Transcript below

Next year, the Parties will submit their Nationally Determined Contributions. It is recognised that more ambition is needed if to meet the 1.5 degree goal set in the Paris Agreement.

Q: How is ESA contributing towards increasing ambition?

A: The European Space Agency provides a global perspective of the changing climate from space. 

We provide the evidence base so we deliver the data and the information that is necessary to quantify these changes which is then used by national authorities, governments and policymakers to implement their actions on the regional or national level. For example using the data to help implement their NDCs.

ESA is a part and parcel of the whole climate research food chain. Starting with the infrastructure we develop the satellite missions that look back to Earth. 

These satellite data actually provide us with a large variety of different data sets that are relevant for quantifying how our climate is changing while also helping to answer key scientific questions.  For computer models are widely used to predict how the climate will change in the future. These models have an ever-increasing need for initializing data, at increasingly fine resolution … this leads us at ESA for instance, to understand better the underlying processes; how our atmosphere and the oceans and ice and land are actually interacting and the fluxes in between these different spheres.

Q: Why is technology so important to help countries face the challenges of climate change?

A: Technology is at the heart of ESA activities. We are developing missions based on the user requirements put forward from European citizens, the European Union and in consultation with various other organizations. On this basis we are trying to ever improve the measurements that we provide. For this you need to have a vibrant technology development programme and it is that, that underpins everything that we're doing in ESA in developing these earth observation satellite missions. For example, the CO2 mission - a very novel concept that we are putting in place to measure these atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide - has not been done before. To achieve this, you have a number of years to develop the technology and that is perhaps our main role within the Copernicus programme with the European Union. We are essentially the system architect and part and parcel of that is to develop the appropriate technology from our side.