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Edvin Aldrian

Tackling Climate Change Locally

To counteract climate change’s effects, the CCIS working on the local level provides stakeholders with data for adaptation.

Climate change is a reality. But although most people accept this fact, they do not understand what this change really looks like and how their environment is being impacted - despite the many climate debates and extensive TV coverage.

Professionals also face this problem on the job, as the two examples below show:

And to address them, you need local climate change information.

In political debates, many delegations struggle over positions on mitigation and adaptation measures, but they are missing crucial scientific facts concerning the local level. Some argue - unconvincingly - that climate change is a global issue, so local issues can be overlooked. This is true only in a limited sense. You have to determine the most vulnerable areas that have to be addressed immediately. And to address them, you need local climate change information.

Secondly, the value of local climate change information is even higher for users within the climate sector. When considering measures for adaptation and mitigation to cope with climate change, the base for action is the situation on the ground locally. It is impossible to devise an efficient action plan without proper information. If you just follow global calculations, your plan might not be appropriate for local conditions.

The global action plan aims for a maximum increase of 2°C and if possible 1.5°C. But if the increase in a certain place is already close to this limit, more rigorous action is needed. The same holds true for global and local CO2 concentrations.

The provision of climate change data to the public is quite rare, especially in developing countries.

In reality though, local climate change information is not readily available. In most places such information is considered a scientific commodity for personal or institutional prestige. It is published only in peer-reviewed scientific journals, limiting its accessibility to a wider audience. The provision of climate change data to the public is quite rare, especially in developing countries. One of the biggest challenges is providing long-term and homogeneous data. The creation of a local climate change information service requires coordinated data rescue, database development, data homogenization and web portal development.

The development of the BMKG (Agency for Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics of Indonesia) Climate Change Information Services (CCIS) started in 2011 with funding from the German GIZ to promote climate change action in Indonesia.

CCIS draws on other databases and selects appropriate climate change indices to provide the best information possible to all stakeholders in Indonesia. CCIS applies 52 climate indices, including temperature, warm extremes, cold extremes, wet extremes, precipitation, seasonal drought, humidity and sunshine duration.

Data and analyses are available from 1982 to the present. The CCIS is updated at the beginning of each year with last year's data. In the user interface, the indices can be shown as a graph and as a table. They can be exported as an Excel file and be printed out. The indices can be displayed as a multi-layer presentation regardless of type, resolution and scale. When a user selects an index, its definition is displayed, making it easy to use. This experience is enhanced by a map of Indonesia. Users can zoom in and out and choose the indices they want to see on display.

The energy sector may ask for wind and solar radiation information; the agricultural sector might request rainfall, humidity and temperature trends.

CCIS users are primarily climate scientists who can translate the information for stakeholders. They act as bridges between the world of science and end users. Different end users have different needs in this scenario: the energy sector may ask for wind and solar radiation information; the agricultural sector might request rainfall, humidity and temperature trends; water resource managers could be interested in rainfall and seasonal trends; the health sector in indices related to disease outbreaks, etc.

One example of a practical use of the indices is the development of a climate change vulnerability map for paddy fields on Bali. Combined with local parameters such as social sensitivity and adaptive capacity, the indices will provide policymakers with information they can use to decide where to plant rice in the future based on past changes. This creates climate-sensitive information for development planning in agriculture sectors.

Users can ask for more indices to be included or request that the interface be tailored to their needs.

Critique and feedback will enhance the CCIS. Users can ask for more indices to be included or request that the interface be tailored to their needs. CCIS could be developed for other countries and regions as well. Furthermore, CCIS information could be combined with other kinds of data, such as greenhouse gas concentrations. This would provide even more key data on the local effects of climate change and inform the global discussion on how best to counteract it.

Photo: “Climate Justice for All” by Joe Brusky
2014 - licenced under Creative Commons Attribution (2.0)

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