A look back at SCO at COP28

Published on 15/12/2023
True to its commitments, the SCO attended COP28, held in Dubai (UAE) from 31 November to 12 December 2023. Alternating round tables and signatures, the SCO's international partners were more mobilised than ever to demonstrate the strong and concrete contribution of space to the climate challenge.

The 28th COP, the annual conference that mobilizes world leaders to combat climate change, was hosted by the United Arab Emirates from 31 November to 12 December 2023. This one marked an important step:

  • Firstly, on the very first day of the COP, the Member States adopted the loss and damage fund. Requested for 30 years by the countries of the South to help them cope with the damage caused by climate change, this fund should be operational in the coming year;
  • Secondly, because the countries of the world approved by consensus on the sidelines of the "Global Stock Take", a worldwide review of the commitments made to implement the Paris Agreement, a final text calling for a "transition" away from fossil fuels by 2050. This transition includes a new specific target to triple renewable energies and double energy efficiency by 2030.

An unprecedented commitment

As it has every year since its creation in 2019, the SCO attended the COP. In an unprecedented move, COP 28, under the presidency of the United Arab Emirates, marked the leading importance of the space sector in the fight against climate change. A Space Pavilion and a Summit of Heads of Space Agencies were held as milestones in the international space community's commitment to the climate, with the aim of highlighting and reinforcing the growing integration of climate commitments at the heart of space agencies' public strategies. 

In line with the Paris Agreement resulting from COP21, the ultimate objective is to implement adaptation measures using innovative solutions to adapt territories on a local and global scale. As a result of the COP21 commitments, the SCO has positioned itself as a key player in mobilizing both the space community and civil society to accelerate the development of local service demonstrators. Well-identified by the community, the SCO has mobilized alongside its members to respond with one voice to the COP's unique call to the space sector with three key messages:

  1. Maximizing the potential of IoT data with new use cases;
  2. Influencing funding levers for the development of local and operational climate services demonstrators;
  3. Strengthening adaptation programmes and strategies with an inclusive approach.

Present on numerous stands and pavilions, our international partners showed remarkable commitment, underlining the importance of space in the fight against climate change. The SCO took part in the following round tables:

  • On the Space Pavilion :
    • "Role of long-term, trustworthy climate data from space in a record-breaking year, now and in the future" - organized by UKSA;

    • "Towards new operational services based on Earth Intelligence" - organized by CNES and the Group on Earth Observations GEO.

👉 This Space Pavilion is the first of its kind at a COP. Entirely dedicated to the international space community, its establishment demonstrates recognition of the key role played by climatology and space observation in understanding and modelling the mechanisms of climate change and developing strategies for mitigating and adapting to these global changes.

  • On the ESA Pavilion
    • "Cross-checking national GHG inventories from space - Supporting national greenhouse gas inventories from space”;

    • "Space for Climate Action".

  • On the French Pavilion: "Operating early warning Earth-Observations based systems: from Methane emissions to natural disasters".

"The SCO, with its model of acceleration and partnerships, embodies an operational response for the development of climate services on a global scale." Frédéric Bretar, SCO Representative in France

Participation in the Space Leader Summit
For this COP28, in addition to the creation of the Space Pavilion, the Emirates Space Agency organized the first Summit of Heads of Space Agencies. With the participation of more than 20 international space agencies, several of which mentioned the SCO in their declaration, the summit laid the foundations for enhanced cooperation to accelerate space-based climate initiatives.

2 new signatures

On 4 December 2023, two new organizations took advantage of their presence at COP28 to ratify the SCO Charter: the Saudi Arabian space agency SSA and Expertise France, a subsidiary of the French Development Agency (AFD). With these two new signatures, the SCO now has 47 members from 25 countries.