President Trump’s administration has quietly killed NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) project, a $10-million-a-year research line that used a network of satellites and aircraft instruments to monitor whether countries were reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, Science magazine reported.
Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in Medford, Massachusetts, said the move jeopardizes plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords. The deal, signed in 2015, by nearly 200 countries, aims to curb global carbon emissions. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal last year.
“If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” she says.
Canceling the CMS “is a grave mistake,” she adds.
NASA spokesman Steve Cole told the magazine that the agency’s CMS project was canceled due to ”budget constraints and higher priorities within the science budget.”
The White House has mounted a broad attack on climate science, repeatedly proposing cuts to NASA’s earth science budget, including the CMS, and cancellations of climate missions such as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3). Although Congress fended off the budget and mission cuts, a spending deal signed in March made no mention of the CMS. That allowed the administration’s move to take effect, says Steve Cole, a NASA spokesperson in Washington, D.C. Cole says existing grants will be allowed to finish up, but no new research will be supported.
David Jacob, a Harvard researcher whose work was supported by the project, told the magazine that NASA had been planning to launch several new observatories.
“It would be a total shame to wind [it] down,” Jacob said.
Science also reported that there are currently 65 projects using the system, many of which focus on carbon in forests and changes in tropical forests.