Climate experts from all over the world recently gathered in Nairobi to discuss the future of pollution-combating policy. Assessments of greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere and the land use practices that contribute to them are essential in gauging the success of the Kyoto Protocol. The EU-ESA project Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) provides experts with the data needed to make such estimations.
More than six thousand experts from national governments, international organisations and non-governmental organisations came together on the occasion of the second meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 2), held in conjunction with the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
hinders the Earth's natural ability to consume
The central topic for discussion proved to be the UN Climate
Secretariat's ‘Greenhouse Gas Data 2006,'
released at the end of October, that contained some mixed messages
on environmental progress. It noted that overall, the emission
of CO2 declined between 1999-2004, an encouraging sign. However,
it goes on to show that that reduction is due to transition
economies of eastern and central Europe (emissions from that
region declined a staggering 36.8 percent), and not something
that can be counted upon to continue in the future. The report's
greatest cause for concern stems from the fact that emissions
from industrialised countries grew by 11 percent.
To establish such figures as the increase or decrease of CO2 production caused by human activity, experts rely on Earth observation (EO) satellites to obtain a global perspective on the problem. Fossil fuel consumption is a major source of CO2 emission, but land use practices are also a factor, and thanks to the GMES initiative, experts have the proper tools at their disposal to make such critical measurements.
GSE Forest Monitoring (GSE-FM), which began in February 2003 and is the first of a range of services offered through GMES, integrates the most relevant and recent scientific research and monitoring practices with the latest analytical tools and information technologies aimed at detecting changes in forest area and density. This aids establishing baselines and projections, and estimate averted emissions.
This operational forest and land use monitoring service is provided to the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture in Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. Beyond Europe, services are provided for other countries, including Indonesia, South Africa, Uganda and Paraguay, and include the evaluation of Kyoto-authorised Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) afforestation to foster inward investment and sustainable development in developing countries.
ESA was present at the Nairobi summit to highlight GMES'
contribution to activities that support the Protocol, and demonstrate
the Commission's and ESA's support for systematic
global observations for understanding climate change.
A further development in monitoring the Earth was the recent
unveiling of GEONETCast by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO),
a leading worldwide effort to build a Global Earth Observation
System of Systems (GEOSS). GMES will contribute to GEONETCast
through the space priority contained in the new Research Framework
Programme (FP7, 2007-2013).
In a recent statement, Zoran Stancic, GEO co-chair from the
European Commission commented on Europe's dedication to
such research. “In Europe, we are extremely pleased with
this flagship example of global co-operation in the GEO framework.
It has enormous potential for the implementation of European
policies in the domain of the environment, climate and sustainable
development. We are also proud that the system is based on an
existing European system run by EUMETSAT to broadcast weather
and environmental data.”