- ESG requirements are broadening and require richer data with greater assurance
- Space Tech to become central to business operations for accurate ESG reporting
EY Space Tech Lab leaders urged all sectors to consider how Earth Observation technologies would factor into their ESG reporting.
Hosting a panel discussion at the Australian Space Forum titled The Future of ESG and Space, EY Space Tech Lab leader Anthony Jones told attendees:
“The breadth of ESG requirements mean companies need to better understand everything from emissions to biodiversity, from water use to health and safety – and a whole lot more.
“Earth Observation data is already so detailed and improving all the time. I know how powerful EO data is going to be in helping our clients achieve their ESG goals because we’re already using it. We’ve used Earth Observation to help one client discover water leaks without manual inspection, and another to monitor vegetation growth around remote infrastructure which has helped them improve fire management.
“Space Tech has made operations for both companies exponentially more efficient and of course improved environmental outcomes.”
Mr Jones advised the audience of attendees to “embed Space Tech into ESG reporting from the get-go”.
“If we agree that Space is something of a greenfield for humans, from the point of view of governance what do we need to prioritise to make sure we learn from past mistakes? What do we need to do to make sure we are on the front foot to operate responsibly in space, knowing that a lot of companies are today in a position of playing catchup to meet ESG requirements on Earth.
“It’s a prime opportunity to target solutions that help ESG measuring, monitoring and reporting. It’s also a golden moment where you can make sure your own business models and practices include the ESG implications of Space Tech – not because it’s regulated but because you know you can do it, and you know you should,” said Mr Jones.
Forum panellist and EY Data Science Lead Dr Jack White said Earth Observation data is playing a critical role for the ‘S’ in ESG.
Dr White’s team creates data and modelling for risk mitigation strategies designed to save human life and future damage to water quality and vegetation.
“Our team has been working closely with clients on the inherent societal impact of Natural Disasters,” Dr White told attendees.
“If you think about how multilayered and long the damage from wildfires lasts; there has been human deaths, housing, wildlife and vegeatation destruction, and the economic impact lasts years to the Agriculture supply chains and the Power & Utilities networks.
“Our wildfire detection data product uses Earth Observation technologies to better understand bushfire conditions, improve future detection, and enable better risk mitigation planning to minimise impacts.
“For instance we can take regular satellite images and provide assessments on moisture content and see if there is high growth and low moisture in vegetation around your infrastructure – and subsequently advise on appropriate maintenance requirements.
“Those efforts are often done manually involving time intensive site visits to assess maintenance requirements, but these are shifting to become a virtual exercise, which improves safety outcomes for crews that face harsh and dangerous conditions.”
Dr White said ESG reporting still has a long way to go to take advantage of technologies that will provide accurate data assurance that markets and regulators are demanding.
“State of the art ESG reporting is currently mostly done using spreadsheets and manual input,” Dr White said.
“So there is a huge disparity between that mode of reporting and what emerging technologies can provide and companies are now looking whether they have rich enough data that is properly audited in order to meet their ESG legal requirements.
“We are working with satellite providers who have a competitive interest in adding hyper spectral imagery capabilities to allow clients to see greenhouse gas molecules, such as CO2 and methane, and estimate their volume.
“This allows us to identify hotspots where Green House Gas emissions being produced, so for any GHG emitter they can get accurate estimates of the volume being produced at their location.
“Technology like this is another data layer providing accuracy for clients responding to ESG legislations globally. These tools are quickly becoming intertwined with ESG reporting to ensure there is audited accuracy as mandated by global requirements to report your carbon footprint. It is a literal and visual interpretation of the GHG being produced by your organisation, so the ESG agenda is becoming so innately tied to what Space Tech has to offer,” Dr White said.
Mr Jones said he hoped all sectors began to embed Space Tech into ESG principles in a way that supports modern expectations of ESG on Earth, rather than having to fix mistakes later.
“Let’s take our terrestrial learnings into Space,” Mr Jones said.
“I believe we’ll all be surprised by how quickly Space Tech will become central to business operations, beyond the already critical role GPS plays in our financial system.
“Now it’s up to all of us to uplift our values and those of our organisations on Earth and in Space.”
To find out more about our EY Space Tech Lab, visit ey.com/au/space-tech