The Paris COP21 concluded on Saturday 12 December 2015 with an unprecedented international agreement against global warming. A great achievement for French diplomacy and a tribute to the unanimous commitment of States, companies and authorities, the agreement provides scientists the world over with new weapons with which to act, plus strong political commitments.
COP21 was an indisputable success for space, with international political leaders once again highlighting to the entire world the vital role of satellites in the study and protection of the climate. It was satellites that first confirmed the impact of global warming, notably regarding glacier melt, by measuring average rises in sea levels with the help of the space oceanography series and altimetry. Today, it is again satellites that are measuring the global rise in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases—the main source of global warming—and that will now be able to study these emissions at regional level.
The signing of the agreement is a major event for CNES, which played a key role in preparing for the conference. Having worked on climate issues for more than 20 years, thanks mainly to its tradition of excellence in space oceanography, CNES is now working on the MERLIN and Microcarb missions in order to provide the international scientific community with the most pioneering weapons possible to combat global warming.
Jean-Yves Le Gall was highly moved by this great victory for CNES and its employees, who have been working towards it for a very long time. “Yesterday was a historic day, representing as it did a collective wake-up to the urgency of climate issues,” said the President of CNES. “This is a twofold source of pride for CNES. Firstly, for responding so well to the trust placed in us to prepare the space element of COP21, but also for being able to demonstrate to the international community the vital contribution of satellites to climate protection plus all our activities in this vein over more than 20 years. In 1992, the French-US mission Topex-Poseidon opened the door to space oceanography and provided vital keys to the study of the climate. Space is now crossing a new frontier through its missions to measure greenhouse gases, Microcarb and MERLIN, developed by CNES.”
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