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Producers and users of climate change-related statistics join forces to fulfil present and future information needs

News Statistics climate change

UNECE’s Expert Forum for Producers and Users of Climate Change-related Statistics took place in Geneva and online from 31 August to 3 September, in the run-up to COP26 later this autumn.

The annual UNECE expert forums bring together not only producers but also users of climate change-related statistics, helping statisticians to gather and respond to the needs of those who actually use the information.

On the agenda this year was a dedicated focus on statistics for measuring climate change vulnerability and adaptation.

Green recovery plans, the European Green Deal and COP26 will all call for huge investment in adaptation and resilience to climate change. Information on how these funds are spent and whether they actually increase resilience will be key for directing the funds and evaluating their impact. However, finding robust and comparable ways to actually measure these things remains immensely challenging.

Vulnerability, exposure to climate-related hazards and possible adaptation actions vary tremendously between and within countries and regions and over time, and are interconnected. The CES set of core climate change-related indicators, published earlier this week, can help national statistical offices to start providing some minimum information and improve knowledge around climate change adaptation, vulnerability, exposure and resilience. In addition, context-specific statistics and indicators will be needed for to inform policy and action at the local level. But there is a long way to go before the availability of data and statistics fully lives up to the demands of policymakers.

Addressing the forum in his keynote speech “Transformative change – the role of future data and statistics in response to climate change impacts”, Dr Youssef Nassef, Director of the UNFCCC Adaptation Division and Chair of the World Adaptation Science Programme, called for redoubling the efforts of statistical producers to fulfil these demands. He stressed the need for production of ever more granular data:

“the richest one per cent are emitting more than the poorest 15 per cent, yet most statistics still focus on the aggregate level”, he said, calling for data that can actually inform useful decisions, rather than only averages or national totals that can mask huge diversity.

The Forum also shone a spotlight on good practices in producing, disseminating and using climate change-related statistics. Making such statistics useable and understandable is an essential step in ensuring that they play their part in informing climate action. The International Monetary Fund showcased its Climate Change Indicators Dashboard, which brings together climate figures with policy, economic, financial and trade-related information. In Ireland, new environmental-social statistics are being developed to shed light on important policy questions, such as: who are the biggest polluters; which communities are the most impacted; and the economic consequences or affordability of changing behaviours to move towards a low-carbon economy. And in the United Nations Statistics Division, the Forum heard, artificial intelligence is being harnessed to develop rapid ways of measuring carbon storage and sequestration to contribute to environmental-economic accounting.

Such innovative approaches to using and communicating data and statistics will be essential as statistical producers endeavour to fulfil the ever more complex demands of a world striving to contain the climate crisis.

Note to editors

About statistical cooperation at UNECE

The Conference of European Statisticians (CES) brings together the heads of the national statistical offices of UNECE member States, OECD member countries and beyond, including from as far afield as Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Mongolia. These chief national statisticians, along with statisticians from international organizations including OECD, Eurostat, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, CIS-Stat, EFTA, the European Central Bank, and a variety of UN agencies, form the governing body for statistical work in the UNECE region.

Through its work on statistics related to the environment and climate change, UNECE helps countries to compile reliable, comparable statistics. CES established a Steering Group to guide its work on climate change-related statistics. CES’ methodological work helps improve climate change-related statistics and indicators and to measure hazardous events and disasters. This week it published a Set of Core Climate Change-Related Indicators and Statistics Using SEEA along with Implementation Guidelines.

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