Climate change

Climate Change

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Climate change differentially poses risks and opportunities with implications for the health and wellbeing of people and their communities, and the environment and these in turn drive the need (pressure) for action. There is a need for climate applications to support the associated decision-making processes such that those risks and opportunities can be identified and, to the extent possible and in a useful manner, quantified. Further complicating this challenge is that these pressures for action also stem from the fact the associated implications are also linked to other reasons for concern such as food, energy and water security and disaster mitigation/recovery.

The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 20161 not only ranks failure of climate change mitigation and adaption as number 1 for impact, but also links them to many other risks such as extreme weather events, food and water crises (see figure of WEF global risks interconnectedness).

From an economic perspective, failure to adopt climate change mitigation and adaptation measures can be considered a market failure given that the allocation of costs and benefits of climate change are unevenly distributed (for example the company profiting from mining coal does not carry the cost resulting from the impact of climate change on small island nations faced with sea-level rise). To overcome this market failure, the need and pressure to act has to be coupled with information on which to base decision-making. This in turn requires that reliable and robust climate data be combined with other data and information (such socio-economic development, population growth, urbanization rates etc.) into meaningful information and made available: that is to strengthen and develop a market for climate applications

The climate applications are generally classified in 4 categories:

  • CA Mitigation
  • CA risk/vulnerability/resilience
  • CA Adaptation
  • CA Early warning & Disaster Risk Management

CA Mitigation: this includes Climate applications that support Climate Change Mitigation and aim to inform decisions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (carbon intensities, carbon exposures and other related variables), enhancing carbon sequestration and/or instigate decarburization processes.

Examples of services: IPCC Climate Scenarios, CO2 footprint computations, carbon neutral technologies, renewable energy, resource efficiency, circular economy.

CA risk/vulnerability/resilience. This includes Climate applications that support resilience/vulnerability/risk assessment, e.g. simulations and assessment processes. Such services relate to the biophysical, the climatological and hydrological impacts of climate change, but also on the social vulnerability dimensions of climate change, i.e. the extent to which institutions and people are and will be vulnerable and at risk.

‐ _Examples: Assessment of health and well-being, assessment of business and industrial vulnerability and risks, assessment of risks to communities, the built environment and infrastructure, the natural environment and natural resources, assessment of migration and poverty induced by climate; assessment of vulnerability and risks due to sea-level changes.

CA Adaptation: this includes Climate applications that support climate change adaptation planning and implementation, considering here also both the physical and social dimensions.

Examples: services to support decision making and implementation associated with: management and operation of flooding coastal/dyke defenses, food security and forestry management; water resource management, design and retrofit of the built environment and infrastructure, development of health and community support systems, energy security, etc.

CA Early warning & Disaster Risk Management: this includes Climate applications that support disaster risk management and disaster crisis management.

Examples: Services that support climate-related warnings of extreme climate events such as drought and flooding; services that inform crisis management and associated procedures; Services that are able to inform emergency logistics and the mitigation of major resources disruption when crises have occurred, etc.

Useful links:

ESA Climate Change Initiative: http://cci.esa.int

ESA Climate Change Cloud  http://www.esa-cloud-cci.org