Protection of our Environment

Proposal 18

Make an environmental impact assessment of all space projects a priority within the European Space Policy.

Detailed explanation

Given the great threats to our environment from the unrestricted deployment of radio-wave emitting 5G satellites detailed in proposal number 17, we conclude that this type of satellite deployment is incompatible with a sustainability strategy like the one the European Union has committed itself to follow.

We therefore demand that the European Space Policy places environmental considerations above any other policy priority in coordination with European partners and International bodies. The EU must live up to its environmental commitments and its pledge to lead in “addressing the challenges posed by the multiplication of space actors, space objects and debris in line with UN conventions related to space.” Orbital space must be considered as part of the environment in all relevant EU laws.

All European space activities must be assessed for their environmental impacts as the human activities in outer space have huge impact on the environment on Earth.

As it currently reads, the European Space Policy gives little consideration to the environmental impacts of space activities. Space is viewed as just another natural resource to exploit in a “race” against other geostrategical and economic interests. Now that the cost of manufacturing and launching satellites has been significantly reduced and massive digitalization is under way the race for space is one for profit and control of data, “the new gold”, and many private actors have come into play.

We are against this view of Space as a natural resource to be exploited to the limit as humanity has done with other resources, with disastrous consequences for nature of which we are part. In order to avoid making the same mistakes with space and endangering life on Earth, environmental and ethical considerations must be paramount when considering any project above any other policy priority. Permissible projects in Space must be approved by an independent interdisciplinary panel of scientists with expertise in EMFs, health, biology, atmospheric and astrophysics, and astronomy, who will assess their impact on the environment, ensuring that the uses of outer space are safe for humans and the environment. The principle of minimization of objects in space must be instituted, limiting deployments to essential uses which will benefit humanity, such as natural disaster or climate monitoring.

Legal arguments for our proposal are:

European Space Strategy

UN Outer Space Treaty

UN Guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities

— Points 13 and 34 of the UN General Assembly 55/122 International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space

— UN Report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space point 9 of part II

Decision No 541/2014/EU (about the Space Surveillance and Tracking Support for space debris)

— 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"

— 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 189 of the TFEU

— According to the Article 191 of the TFEU the Union policy shall contribute to preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment and "promote measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems". Union policy "shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damaged should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay."

— Article 192 and 193 of the TFEU

— Article 37 of the the CFR

(Updated in November 2022: The International Astronomical Union Center for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference expresses concern about the recently launched prototype BlueWalker 3 satellite’s impact on astronomy. New measurements reveal that this low Earth orbiting satellite is now one of the brightest objects in the night sky, outshining all but the brightest stars. In addition, the satellite’s use of terrestrial radio frequencies poses a new challenge to radio astronomy.)

(Updated in November 2022: AST SpaceMobile Deploys Largest-Ever Commercial Communications Array in Low Earth Orbit and is designed to communicate directly with cellular devices via 3GPP standard frequencies at 5G speeds. “Every person should have the right to access cellular broadband, regardless of where they live or work,” said Chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile.)

(Updated in December 2022: In May 2022 the feedback period was closed for a new proposal for a regulation on EU space policy. Only 17 organisations and individuals commented the latest stage including us - Europeans for Safe Connections.
Therefore now EU feels free to launch EU satellite constellation to be called IRIS (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite). It will be based on the development of innovative and disruptive technologies and on the leveraging of the New Space ecosystem. Low earth orbit satellites will enable Europe to provide quantum technologies for secure encryption also to armed forces.

StarlinkTrails wikimedia
New Starlink satellites reflecting sunlight. In the pictured composite of 33 exposures, parallel streaks from Starlink satellites are visible over southern Brazil. Sunflowers dot the foreground, while a bright meteor was caught by chance on the upper right.
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