The European Green Deal data space combats climate change with environmental data

Ashwinram Meenakshisundaram

“If, by 2030, we cut our carbon emissions in about half – and, by 2050, we don’t emit any more carbon emissions than the planet can absorb each year – scientists predict that we can avoid the worst threats of climate change”, according to the IPCC Special Report ‘Global Warming of 1.5°C’. One of the ways the European Union aims to achieve that goal, is by creating a robust data space: the European Green Deal data space.

In February 2020, the European Union as part of its Digital Europe Programme produced the idea of the Green Deal data space “to use the major potential of data in support of the Green Deal priority actions on climate change, circular economy, zero-pollution, biodiversity, deforestation and compliance assurance.” This will be a huge step towards achieving the core objective of the larger Green Deal Action plan – that is to transform Europe into the first climate-neutral continent, with net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. This data space will play a crucial role in the development of the Destination Earth initiative – a very high precision digital model of the Earth that will enable visualising, monitoring, and forecasting of natural and human activity, thereby driving sustainable development.

To give an example, greenhouse emissions can be reduced by building more wind turbines, but they cannot be built anywhere since it can put several rare marine species in harm’s way. Here complete data about marine life cannot be disclosed both due to economic reasons as well for protecting the very same species. This is where a data space comes into picture as it makes quality data available and, grants access only to relevant data such that a conflict of interest does not come up.

The Green Deal data space seeks to develop into a pan-European space through collaboration with other EU programmes as well as a hosts of other national, regional, and local data ecosystems. This will be achieved by ensuring that certain key deliverables are put into place, for instance having a sustainable data governance programme that unifies and connects all existing data ecosystems and grants stakeholders relevant amount of access to it. This will be followed by creation of a priority list of datasets pertinent to the larger Green Deal initiative and utilising re-usable data-services to facilitate sharing and analysis of large volumes of data.

The creation of the Green Deal data space is also targeted towards driving the ‘zero pollution ambition’ built on the existing data corpus providing detailed information on chemicals, air, water & soil emission, and hazardous substances in consumer products. The road leading there might be a long one but all in all, the Green Deal data space is the necessary precursor of turning data into actionable insights and to tackle climate change.

The European Green Deal data space combats climate change with environmental data
Image credit:
2022, European Space Agency

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