Report: EU Space for Green Transformation (EUSPA 2023)

Source: EUSPA


In December 2019, the European Commission announced the European Green Deal, a package of policies and initiatives to answer the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. This ambitious roadmap towards a climate-resilient society aspires to make the European Union’s economy sustainable, turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities. The Green Deal is designed to transform Europe into the first climate-neutral continent, achieving zero net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.

As tighter regulation and legislation appear on the horizon and purchasing and investment patterns place ever-higher importance on sustainability, companies embark on their sustainability journey. Not just external factors (regulation, revenues), but also internal ones, such as talent attraction, employee productivity, motivation and retention, are growing in significance. This is reflected in the key figures presented below: firstly, the appeal of a prospective employer to students and young professionals is 25% higher for companies whose green transformation is already underway’. Secondly, and most crucially, the market for the green transformation itself stands at € 15 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAR of 21.9% to 20302. Finally, a staggering 85% majority of Moody’s debt ratings took ESG into account in 20203 – demonstrating clearly that the investment appetite is rising for companies strong in environmental, social and governance matters. As a matter of fact, the broader impetus for the green transformation is also born from the need to build climate resilience, as the world’s society and industry anticipate the transformation climate change will bring to daily lives, livelihoods, consumption, shipping, and all aspects of life and the market.

Performing the green transformation requires that a company takes a deep look through their internal operations, as well as their surrounding supply chain to understand where and how pollution and waste occur. In that regard, the slew of tools newly-available in the 21st century – including remote sensing, location-based services, artificial intelligence and many others – makes monitoring, tracking, evaluating and implementing sustainable operations not just possible, but long-term profitable.

The EU Space Programme is able to provide value to all players across supply and value chains, sectors and activities, chiefly with its Copernicus (Earth Observation) and EGNSS (positioning, navigation and timing) components. From renewable energy generation and distribution to industrial waste management, wildlife monitoring, urban planning and fleet management, the Copernicus and Galileo can offer a host of independent, as well as synergistic services to aid companies along their sustainability journeys and support them in greening their operations.

EU Space data and services are an important asset to support the implementation of the Green Deal objectives. At government level, Galileo and Copernicus are essential tools for environmental monitoring, as they provide reliable and nearly real-time data on positioning and Earth Observation. Policies can be shaped based on reality and thoughtful corrective actions can be taken, when necessary.

In the context of a more sustainable society and ESG scoring, companies are setting green transformation targets to reduce greenhouse emissions and environmental footprint of their operations, as well promote their actions to attract customers and increase their market shares. Business benefit from a myriad of possible applications for EU space data, which translates into not only greener practices, but also cost reduction and increased efficiency.

For example, a green urban development relies on solid geospatial data. EGNSS has a fundamental role in reducing greenhouse emissions, consonant to the Green Deal’s ambitions. Aiming a smart and sustainable mobility, Galileo is a key tool for reducing travel time and fuel consumption. Satellite data provided by Copernicus and Galileo play a key role in improving the food system, developing sustainable and efficient practices. The EU space data enables precision agriculture by mapping the evolution of crops and precisely navigating to the intervention areas.

Ecosystems and biodiversity preservation are vital for the maintenance of life on Earth. In this respect, Copernicus data is especially appropriate for monitoring the environment, providing crucial climate-biodiversity indicators.

Almost all the consulted companies (direct interviews and surveys) stated that they are currently not leveraging EU Space Data for pursuing their green transformation objectives. Many consulted companies acknowledged that the potential for EU Space data is enormous and expressed their interest to know more about it and possibly being engaged by EUSPA in further action.

This study aims to introduce the EU Green Deal, its implications for companies, and how EU Space can help companies to address their green transformation, presenting current practices of EU-based champions in sustainability management, and how companies can benefit from the EU Space Programme applications. More specifically, the study aims to:

  • Understand the Green Deal and the implications for companies: The Green Deal comes with implications that ripple through the entire corporate ecosystem and provides companies with opportunities as well as the need to react to the changing regulatory and policy framework.
  • Analyse how companies currently address green transformation: Companies (and investors) are focusing more and more on sustainability. The understanding of the methods, measures, and tools used by the companies for their green transformation is crucial to identify which gaps can be filled by the EU Space Programme.
  • Describe the full potential of EU Space data for green transformation: Present the way companies can use EU Space data and services to help them on their path towards sustainability. Provide an analysis to quantify and qualify current and future benefits (e.g., monetary, efficiency related) of using EU Space data and their value-added for green transformation. Show specific practical use cases of currently deployed applications.
  • Provide a call for action to companies: present a call for action for companies that are less aware of the EU Space Programme benefits to engage with EUSPA to understand how to maximise the use of EU Space data and services to support their green transformation.

During the study, both secondary and primary research have been conducted. In particular, a stakeholder consultation has been performed through direct industry interviews and a web survey aimed both to space services providers and user companies. As a result of the consultation, about thirty companies provided useful insights and inputs used throughout the report.