Protection of our Environment

Proposal 17

Call for an immediate moratorium on 5G satellites mega-constellations worldwide until the environmental adverse effects are resolved.


Detailed explanation

Plans for over 100,000 telecommunication satellites are already underway.

(Updated in January 2022: 441,449 LOW EARTH ORBIT SATELLITES Operating, Approved and Proposed)

The sheer scale of the pollution they will cause and the risk they pose to Earth’s electromagnetic grid which sustains life on the planet makes their approval a breach of the Outer Space Treaty (Article IV, question about 5G satellites being weapons) and a contravention of the UN Guidelines for the Long-term sustainability of Outer Space Activities guideline 2.2 (c), requiring the use of outer space to be conducted “so as to avoid (its) harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth” and “risks to people, property, public health and the environment associated with the launch, in-orbit operation and re-entry of space objects”. They also threaten Astronomy and Radio astronomy, existing satellites and other scientific or technological investments in Space that are in humanity’s best interest (…).

The EU has pledged to “promote responsible behaviour in outer space and preserve and protect the space environment for peaceful use by all nations” within the European Space Policy, and has an obligation to safeguard the environment under TEU.

Therefore, we ask the Union to invoke relevant international treaties and call for an immediate halt to mega-constellations of telecommunications satellites being launched worldwide pending satisfactory assessment of their environmental effects and consequent limitation/ban of artificial constellations.

The deleterious impacts of 5G radio wave emitting satellites mega-constellations are multiple and very serious:

  • Alteration of Earth's natural electromagnetism which sustains life on the planet. Artificial man-made radiation from radio transmitters on the ground and in space is already damaging the Earth’s electromagnetism. The mechanisms are well documented. Radio waves reach the ionosphere and the magnetosphere, and interact with the Van Allen belts, producing electron rain which modifies the electrical properties of the atmosphere. Thus, communications satellites emitting powerful RF beams deployed directly in the ionosphere will trigger electron rain and further pollute the Earth’s Global Electrical Circuit that governs the electrical qualities of all-natural phenomena, including life itself, with these main consequences:.
  • Increase of radiation at ground level. 5G satellites will use the same type of phased array antennas as ground-based 5G systems, emitting powerful, focused beams of microwave radiation proven to adversely affect the health of humans, animals and plants. They will irradiate areas of the Earth not reached by other transmitters, and add their radiation to ground-based 5G transmissions from billions of IoT objects.
  • Increase of atmospheric pollution and ozone depletion from rocket exhaust and de-orbiting satellites’ burnout on re-entry into atmosphere.With the total number of satellites planned, and taking into account their short lifespan (5 years), which means they will be dismissed and replaced often, satellite launches and de-orbiting could number 5,000 to 10,000 per year, or 10 to 20 per day. Rocket exhaust is extremely polluting: solid and liquid fuels destroy the ozone layer and kerosene releases massive amounts of soot at high altitudes. The combined effect of both types of fuels will raise the Earth’s temperature. Mercury-based rocket fuel currently being developed could spread potent neurotoxins over the Earth should an accident occur. Re-entry exhaust plumes of deorbited satellites are yet to be fully assessed for their environmental impact but will undoubtedly imply massive pollution with dangerous chemical substances in the lower atmosphere.
  • Increase of space debris and Kessler effect. The dangers posed by space debris, some 20,000 catalogued objects including spacecrafts, rocket stages, defunct satellites and fragmented missions, are already of grave concern to all space enterprises. As the number of objects in Earth orbit increases, so does the risk of collision and the possibility of a chain reaction as objects disintegrate and collide successively (Kessler effect). The worst-case scenario would render Space inoperable for hundreds of years. Satellites that fail or that are rendered non-manoeuvrable by, for example, a solar flare, increase the risk of this happening.
  • Effects on navigation and survival of wildlife: light pollution from the ground has already been found to greatly harm wildlife. To this we must now add the artificial night sky brightness from satellites which obliterates the stars and affects light sensitive biological systems, and which has already been estimated at a 10% increase over the natural brightness of the night sky.
  • Severe obstruction of Optical and Radio Astronomy. The importance of Astronomy and Radioastronomy cannot be understated: they expand our knowledge of the Universe and are crucial to assess risks to Earth from space weather, meteorites, etc. 5G mega-constellations represent a dramatic degradation of the scientific content for a huge set of astronomical observations in four main ways:
    • Crossing and scarring observations with bright parallel streaks at all latitudes. Mitigation procedures like darkening satellites do not work, as satellites damage astronomical images at all wavelengths.
    • Increasing light pollution: satellite fleets reflect and diffuse sunlight. This skyglow effect is already quantified to have increased night sky brightness by 10% above natural levels. This already is the critical limit adopted in 1979 by the International Astronomical Union for the light pollution level not to be exceeded at the sites of astronomical observatories. How much more light pollution will tens of thousands of satellites produce?
    • Interfering with radio-astronomical observations as their communications bands overlap with radio-astronomical bands at all sub-bands. This is already damaging radio-astronomical observations. To which we must add the interference from the base stations on Earth and the trillions of transmitting objects of the planned IoT in just a few years. Radio astronomists justly fear Radio astronomy will become an extinct science if 5G satellites and ground-based 5G and IoT continue to be deployed.
    • Increasing the risk of damage to space-based astronomical instruments such as the Hubble telescope, which has already sustained substantial damage from colliding space debris.For all of this damage to Science, Astronomists are also asking for a moratorium on satellite constellations and all technologies that can negatively impact astronomical observations from space and from the ground or impact on the scientific, technological and economic investments made in other astrophysical projects. They dispute the legality of any national agency like the FCC to authorize satellite constellations in disregard of their environmental and scientific impact and demand these projects be evaluated internationally and limited to the strictly necessary deployments in accordance to the Outer Space Treaty and the UN Guidelines for the Long-term sustainability of Outer Space Activities.
  • Impairment of atmospheric measurements and weather forecasting: the World Meteorological Organisation warns of the severity of interference caused by the 5G signals, which will impair weather forecasts with dire consequences for natural disaster management.
  • Destruction of the view of the night sky, Humanity’s natural and cultural heritage of utmost importance, which must be protected and preserved for future generations.

In view of all these enormous hazards, immediate measures must be taken to protect humanity and the environment in accordance with ethical imperatives and international agreements.

Furthermore, the citizens of Europe and the World have not been involved in the decision regarding the deployment of 5G satellites and their immense environmental impact. According to the Aarhus Convention EU citizens have a right to ensure that the most up-to-date scientific data is taken into account when the EU adopts policies for the protection of the environment. Citizens have a right to access environmental information, to public participation in environmental decision-making processes and to access to justice. Regarding the deployment of 5G satellites the EU Citizens have not been asked whether we will accept the pervasive environmental consequences from the 5G satellites in the name of technological progress.

Legal argument for our proposal:

  • Article 3 (3) of the TEU: "The Union shall establish an internal market. It shall work for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment. It shall promote scientific and technological advance."
  • Article 21 (f) of the TEU: "help develop international measures to preserve and improve the quality of the environment and the sustainable management of global natural resources, in order to ensure sustainable development"a
  • Article 13 of the TFEU; This provision is important in two respects:* it recognises animals as “sentient beings”* it requires the Union and its Member States, in (i) formulating and (ii) implementing the Union’s policies in certain key areas, to pay “full regard to the welfare requirements of animals
  • Article 191 of the TFEU; EU is competent to protect the environment via the precautionary principle.
  • Article 192 and 193 of the TFEU
  • Article 37 of the the CFR
  • Habitat Directive
  • Bird Directive
  • Aarhus convention
geosats wikimedia
Stack of 68 images (35min total) containing 39 Starlink, 3 GEO satellites and one rocket body
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