Unleashing the potential of climate services
Climate services can contribute substantially to climate change mitigation and adaptation. However, this market is still under development. Now EU-funded research is tackling the barriers restricting growth in these vital services.
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Climate services cover the transformation of climate-related data into products such as projections, forecasts, economic analysis, assessments and other services that may be useful to society as a whole. Essentially, climate services help organisations to manage the opportunities and risks created by climate change an increasingly critical task. However, the market for these services in Europe is still being developed.
The EU-funded EU-MACS project assessed the barriers that are limiting the uptake of climate services across a wide variety of sectors, in Member States, and in businesses and not-for-profit organisations, with a focus on the finance, tourism and urban-planning sectors.
The overall goal of the project was to ensure that the wealth of available climate information becomes truly accessible and applicable for a large variety of potential climate-service users, says project coordinator Adriaan Perrels of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. For climate services, our goal has been to improve matching supply with demand in the European market.
The project looked at structures and interactions of the different obstacles to the uptake of climate services. This helped to underpin the design of policy scenarios and select appropriate policy instruments.
A core innovation was the EU-MACS typology of climate services, which can be used by service partners to work out the most relevant ways to collaborate in their areas. These include the use of maps & apps, expert analysis, climate-inclusive consulting and sharing practices.
EU-MACS developed three policy scenarios for climate services, each relevant in typical policy regimes, representing state-led, business-led and network-led approaches. Several market-enabling measures are relevant to all three but need different approaches to their implementation. These include standardisation across the entire climate-services value chain and better management and communication of quality assurance.
The project found that public and not-for-profit climate service providers need to better plan and evaluate their positions in the climate-service value chain and adopt improved business models with a focus on collaborative needs-based climate services. Sustainable funding for the regular provision of climate services also requires greater attention.
An open data policy at EU and Member-State level is a key element for a flourishing climate services market. Although open-data policies should improve affordability of services and data, says Perrels, this should not be automatically equated with free-of-charge data.
The project concluded that the language of climate-service provision needs to be simplified and made more accessible. In many cases, it was found that the way climate data is communicated, using complex terms and jargon, hindered its actual use. Climate services should learn to speak the languages of its customers, Perrels explains.
Application of the projects proposed policy packages in EU Member States, supported by EU-level initiatives on standardisation and market deployment monitoring, should accelerate the uptake and beneficial use of climate services across many sectors.
We loosely estimate that, if the additional uptake of climate services takes place, across the entire EU this would represent easily a net societal benefit of several billion euros, as well as non-monetised benefits for societal resilience, says Perrels. In addition, all the participants in the project will benefit from the wider adoption and use of the Living Lab, Stakeholder Network Analysis and Climate Services Typology tools developed.
Some project partners have developed their understanding of sector needs and this will help them to better co-develop climate-service offers with users in the future, explains Perrels. In particular, our financial services stakeholders have indicated the projects output will help them better orientate towards the field of climate services, which is still a widely unknown space for many in their sector. A broad take-up of climate services by the financial sector would have large knock-on effects for take-up in all other sectors.