We need open climate data to inform urgent action

Warning signals calling for urgent and unprecedented changes to all aspects of society abound. From extreme weather events to rising sea levels and severe droughts that disproportionately affect vulnerable communities and threaten your morning cup of coffee — the rate of warming caused by human activities is speeding up twice as fast as predicted and everyone needs to act. Yet effective climate action calls for a coordinated response across societies, underpinned by shared information.

As countries take action in response to climate change, how we collect, share and use data will be essential to understand risks, track progress and enable informed action. Open data can be a very useful tool to empower people to understand climate trends and develop solutions towards common goals. A framework to share and publish climate information can encourage coordination across government agencies and help break organisational silos.

However, we often find that climate-relevant data is inexistent, incomplete and fragmented across agencies. In this regard, most of the attention has been focused on developing robust guidelines on enhancing transparency through the Paris Rulebook to ensure more clear and consistent reporting of progress and actions taken. Equally important is supporting countries to identify the full range of data relevant to their national climate contexts and developing a stakeholder-driven process to prioritize its collection and publication. This can establish and embed more efficient and coordinated data production efforts while ensuring transparent, inclusive and accountable governance in doing so.

The Open Data Charter and the World Resources Institute partnered to consult with climate experts which key data types should be considered when investing in open data infrastructures and how they may inform smart climate policies. Building on collaborations with the Center for Open Data Enterprise,

today we launch a beta guide to Open Up Climate Data that gives an overview of crucial information we need to respond to climate needs.

For example, access to transport and energy data — which constitutes some of the largest sources of global CO2 emissions — enables communities, municipalities, and the private sector to plan resiliency initiatives and invest in low-carbon development plans, while disclosure of climate finance data strengthens accountability and safeguards climate funds from corruption.

While the guide does not contain an exhaustive list of climate data types for tracking and reporting, it is meant to provide a starting point for local stakeholders to prioritize access to the most important data types according to their contexts and foster more robust collaboration among diverse sectors and actors, a fundamental ingredient in the climate change agenda given its intersectionality.

In partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank and with a group of leading governments, including Chile, we aim to ground test if and how key accessible, timely and interoperable data can be used in ways that contribute to specific climate goals and help various actors make the changes needed to transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient pathway.

Join us by sharing what data you would like to see included adding your comments to this airtable or via email to info@opendatacharter.org.