Net Zero Space Declaration Nets 11 Signatories

The scales of the space debris problem (Credit: ESA)

Eleven space stakeholders have pledged themselves to avoiding the future generation of space debris and remediating the junk that is already clogging up Earth orbit by signing the Net Zero Space Declaration last week.

“On-going scientific research from national and international bodies indicates that collective, concrete steps must be taken to prevent a rapid degradation of Earth’s orbital environment. By launching the ‘Net Zero Space’ initiative, we are calling for a global commitment to achieving sustainable use of outer space for the benefit of all humankind by 2030,” the declaration said.

The declaration was unveiled during the fourth Paris Peace Forum in France. Signatories included:

  • Arianespace — launch vehicle manufacturer and operator (France)
  • Astroscale — space debris mitigator (Japan)
  • Chang Guang Satellite Technology Company — satellite manufacturer & operator (China)
  • CNES — French space agency (France)
  • EU Space Surveillance and Tracking (Europe Union)
  • Eutelsat — satellite operator (France)
  • International Institute of Air and Space Law, Leiden University (The Netherlands)
  • ISISPACE — CubeSat builder and operator (Netherlands)
  • Planet Labs — satellite manufacturer and operator (USA)
  • Share My Space — satellite debris and tracker (France)
  • SpaceAble — space situational awareness provider (France)

The text of the declaration is below.

Net Zero Space Declaration

Activities in outer space have entered a new era of growth, creating new possibilities for human development and the protection of Earth. However, the amount of orbital debris is increasing dangerously. This trend threatens humanity’s ability to benefit from outer space by increasing the risk of collision for space assets, further affecting the safety and sustainability of space operations, and increasing the cost of access to the most useful orbits.

Article I of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 provides that the exploration and use of outer space are “the province of all [hu]mankind”. The protection of Earth’s orbital environment should be at the center of all space activities in order to guarantee that current and future actors will continue to have access to and use of this domain. It is therefore critical to ensure the sustainable development of both public and private space activities, to protect the integrity of existing and future objects in orbit, and to maintain equitable access to outer space for all. Our common goal is to ensure safe space operations and the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. To do so, we seek to adopt appropriate mitigation and remediation measures in all space operations from the outset, taking into account the distinctive features of the different orbits used for space operations.

We share the conviction that this goal can only be achieved by international and multi-stakeholder cooperation through gathering forces from the private sector, civil society, and academia, as well as public authorities and regulators. All entities operating in orbit, or contributing on Earth to space operations, have a part to play in this task.

On-going scientific research from national and international bodies indicates that collective, concrete steps must be taken to prevent a rapid degradation of Earth’s orbital environment. By launching the “Net Zero Space” initiative, we are calling for a global commitment to achieving sustainable use of outer space for the benefit of all humankind by 2030.  We recommend urgent action from 2021 onwards to rapidly contain and then reduce the ongoing pollution of Earth’s orbital environment:

  • by avoiding further generation of hazardous space debris, and
  • by remediating existing hazardous space debris.

We are calling on all stakeholders worldwide to join us in supporting the “Net Zero Space” initiative. When announcing their support, all stakeholders will commit to declaring concrete, tangible example(s) of actions they took, or are planning to undertake, in accordance with the scale of their operations and within their means so as to contribute to the “Net Zero Space” goal.

In order to follow up on the progresses made to reach this goal and to keep incentive in this regard, we ask the Paris Peace Forum to host the “Net Zero Space” initiative secretariat, to report annually on the status of the initiative and promote subsequent steps towards the realization of the “Net Zero Space” goal.