EU-MACS Coordinator: Prof. Adriaan Perrels,

EU-MACS should help to unleash the market for climate services

Dec 26, 2016 09:08
EU-MACS should help to unleash the market for climate services

Adriaan Perrels is Research Professor at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. He is an economist with long experience in climate policy assessment, both for mitigation and adaptation issues.

If you would be asked whether you would rather be reactive or proactive as regards coping with risks, you would probably choose a proactive stance. Furthermore, you would probably also expect or at least prefer that companies and public authorities took similar stances. When we look at the use of climate services, being information and advice regarding climate variability and climate change as well as their effects, we can conclude that a large majority of private and public actors intentionally or unintentionally chooses a reactive stance regarding climate risks.

Climate services are an indispensable input for any actor’s risk management, for which climate variability and/or climate change are notable factors. In practice, this means that climate services are indispensable for many, if not most, public and private sectors as well as for private citizens with respect to their properties and residential location. Risks can refer in this respect not only to incurring damages, but also to missing opportunities.

Up to now, the use of climate services is well below its potential use which is at odds with the widely shared preference for a proactive stance towards risk management. On the other hand, this means there is a vast – as yet barely tapped – potential for the use of climate services. What holds the unfolding of the climate services market back? The EU-MACS study starts from this question. Science and expert organisations are expanding and enhancing the supply of climate information continuously – yet, uptake by others is much slower than hoped for. The EU-MACS study will seek for answers and remedies for unleashing the market for climate services.

Despite a basically positive impression of climate services many obstacles restrict their widespread uptake. A key feature of the current climate services sector is that it is too much driven by science and technology interests and quite little by needs of prospective users. This situation is a natural outcome of the policy driven reinvention of climate services from a statistical product of historic time series and seasonal projections into a very wide-scoped adaptation oriented climate change and climate variability service which still also encompasses the traditional products of historical statistics and seasonal products. In particular regarding the latter product all kinds of innovations are coming up, inter alia combining adaptation and seasonal product features. Notwithstanding the scientific and technical splendour, this set-up should nonetheless change in order to enable growth. EU-MACS reviews what should change and what are promising ways to do so.

Challenges are amongst others: lack of obvious ‘market places’, lack of clear – standardized – product definitions, lack of easily recognizable quality assurance, limited ability among many prospective users for specifying climate information needs, tendency among climate service suppliers to cast risks too much as a ‘climate only’ problem, and resourcing of the supply and use of climate services, etc. etc. By resolving these issues EU-MACS aims to contribute to the ambition of the EU Climate Services Roadmap to transform the climate services from a science driven to a demand driven and science supported service product.

A special feature of EU-MACS is the large emphasis on interactive exploration of climate service concepts jointly with stakeholders from important prospective user groups, being: finance, tourism and urban planning. These explorations should result in matching protocols that should help suppliers and users to more effectively offer, search, specify, deliver and use climate services. In this respect, it is fortunate that EU-MACS enjoys the support of an active and highly motivated Advisory Expert Committee.

Another special feature of EU-MACS is the close cooperation with the sister project MARCO, which aims to assess the size and composition of the untapped market for climate services and outline market growth until 2030. The projects will regularly stage sessions together in conferences and also organise joint events. EU-MACS will have its first public seminar in Helsinki on June 21st, 2017 – keep track of our actions and be welcome to an enlightened seminar on the transformation of climate services market!!