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The National Centre for Earth Observation Scientists join the UK delegation at COP28

NCEO scientists are joining the strong UK delegation of Earth Observation experts taking quality, trusted data to the forefront of future policy decisions.

The delegation supporting the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), include NCEO Earth Observation experts based at the University of Leicester and the University of Edinburgh and colleagues at Space4Climate.

The University of Leicester’s Professor Heiko Balzter, a research lead in NCEO, has been invited to join the panels of ‘Measuring Nature Positive’ on 9 December, discussing how the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework’s mission of ‘halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030’ may be achieved, and the role that landscapes can play in ‘Climate Repair’ on 10 December in the Higher Education Pavilion at COP28. He is also joining the panel of ‘The Power of Space to Protect & Restore Our Natural World’ on 10 December in the UK Pavilion at the invitation of the UK Government.

Professor Balzter has recently published a paper in the journal Sustainability by the University’s Institute for Environmental Futures on the topic of Loss and Damage, based on their discussions. At COP27, government representatives committed to establishing a Loss and Damage to compensate low- and middle-income nations for the climate change impacts they suffer from with implementation of the fund left to further negotiations, which are taking place as part of the COP28 process.

The challenge of understanding the effects of climate change on humankind (and, hence, identifying the best response strategies) is interdisciplinary by its very nature, argues the paper. This challenge stems from the interconnection between many individual disciplines including (but certainly not limited to) geophysics, oceanography, biology, ecology, economics, sociology and psychology.

Professor Heiko Balzter said: “My biggest hope is that the world will agree how to establish the Loss and Damage fund that was agreed in principle at COP27 last year. Our paper highlights how evidence for losses and damages from climate change can be provided, how climate adaptation can be strengthened in low and middle-income countries, and how interdisciplinary understanding is needed to make the Fund effective.

“Scientific evidence of loss and damage must include geophysical, geochemical, biological, and socio-economic evidence because climate change impacts by their very nature will disrupt physical, biological, and socio-economic systems due to their interconnectedness. Types of evidence include climate impact assessments from observations and models, socio-economic models, and should adopt participatory approaches. It is important to include psychological and social damages in the assessments. Space data from Earth observation are an example of scientific evidence. Satellites can map flood damages, crop losses and other impacts of extreme weather events.”

NCEO Director, Professor John Remedios and Professor Paul Palmer will be taking part in Earth Information Day on December 3rd. The mandated day provides scientific information to delegates to support a dialogue of the Parties for exchanging information on the state of the global climate system and developments in systematic observations which support the climate negotiations.

Professor Remedios said: “International agreement between nations is vital to build trust in systematic observations, which offer so much in terms of characterising the changes we have already seen in recent years and expect to see in the future. Satellite data for methane, forest carbon, temperature and fires already offer insight into ways in which we can respond to the climate crisis”.

Dr Cristina Ruiz Villena, also from the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), Professor Balzter and Professor Paul Palmer from the University of Edinburgh will be supporting the UK Space Agency’s collaborative action group, Space4Climate during the conference, who will be representing UK climate and space expertise from academia. The PufferFish interactive globe on the Space4Climate stand features Earth Observation data from across NCEO locations and science areas.

Dr Cristina Ruiz Villena is one of 10 Early-Career Researchers awarded a UK Universities Climate Network (UUCN) scholarship to attend COP28. Dr Ruiz Villena said:

“I would like to see stronger national commitments for emissions reductions, the operationalisation of the ‘Loss and Damage’ fund, more ambitious climate finance commitments, and clear, non-edulcorated language for the reports (e.g. ‘phase out’ of fossil fuels rather than ‘phase down’). I also hope that all parties involved remember that we are all in this together and nobody should be left behind.”

Find out more about COP28