NASA leadership is heading to Dubai this week for the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (better known as COP 28), which begins on Thursday and runs through Dec. 12.
Administrator Bill Nelson, who will become the first NASA chief to attend the conference, will lead the space agency’s delegation, according to a release.
COP 28 101: The annual conference is an opportunity for global leaders to meet and discuss ways to mitigate climate change, including meeting goals such as not allowing global temperatures to rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
The space angle: For the first time, the conference will include a Space Agencies Leaders’ Summit on Dec. 4, in which Nelson will participate alongside officials from 20+ international space agencies, according to Times Aerospace. At the summit, leaders will discuss how to boost international sharing of climate data, prioritize and fund space-based climate research, and raise awareness about the role space places in monitoring climate change.
The UAE Space Agency will also host a space pavilion at the conference for the first time.
“At a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges due to climate change, the space sector is emerging as a vital tool to monitor and understand these changes using advanced technologies,” Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, minister of state of public education and advanced technology, and chairperson of the UAE Space Agency, said in a statement.
NASA will host its own space-focused attraction at the conference’s US Center. The NASA Hyperwall will showcase the agency’s data on things like heat waves, wildfires, floods, and droughts, and will also serve as a backdrop for presentations by NASA officials.
And the rest: More than half a dozen NASA leaders will attend the conference, including:
- Kate Calvin, NASA’s chief scientist and senior climate advisor
- Susie Perez Quinn, NASA’s chief of staff
- Karen St. Germain, director of the agency’s Earth Science Division
The delegation also includes scientists focusing on oceans, climate science, and sea level from NASA centers, including the Langley Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Lab.
Bigger picture: NASA’s larger role in the conference is evidence of the broader Biden administration’s prioritization of studying and combating climate change. And Nelson’s participation in the conference is the latest in a long string of international engagements for the administrator where he plays the role of America’s space diplomat.