Data and data science both have an important role to play in the fight against climate change. EcoAct’s Nadège Lespagnol, Pierre Keller and Victoria Naipal explain what climate data is, why it is important and how innovation is key to tackling climate change.
What is climate data, and why is it important?
As climate change is incredibly complex and multi-layered, the volume and heterogeneity of climate data can be daunting. However, climate data is becoming increasingly accessible, not least thanks to the emergence of environmental data providers such as CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), an international non-profit organisation that manages the world’s largest environmental database. CDP encourages investors, companies, states, and regions to measure their impact, and then take concrete action for the environment and the climate.
There are many freely available sources of climate data, including GHG emissions data, climate models, emissions factors, scenarios, satellite data, carbon price data, product life-cycle inventory data, etc.
There are also several data collection initiatives underway at the European level, such as the European Single Access Point (ESAP), which will consolidate all corporate financial and ESG data. This system, planned for 2024, should make the market more fluid by facilitating access to information for financial stakeholders.
At the international level, the development of an open warehouse for data related to the climate transition is underway: Net-Zero Data Public Utility (NZDPU). The NZDPU will eventually become the golden source for corporate emissions reporting and for monitoring their reduction plans.
These are just two initiatives that demonstrate how data is no longer reserved only for data scientists or analysts; climate data is becoming more democratic. Easy access to actionable data, whether raw or reprocessed, enables us to make better decisions. When decision-makers have easy access to climate data, they can make informed decisions to move their organisation forward. When operational staff have access to intuitive climate analysis tools with relevant data visualisation capabilities, they can observe what is affecting the environment around them, how the different variables interact, and so draw their own conclusions on how to address the climate crisis within their company, territory or organisation.
Innovation is at the heart of accessible climate data
Modern climate analytics tools and technologies are capable of ingesting massive sets of climate and environmental observation data, allowing us to quickly analyse and describe the dynamic relationship between human society and nature, and to determine whether our actions to combat climate change are having the intended impact.
EcoAct assists clients in interpreting environmental and climate data by explaining how data is managed, stored and disseminated, and how it fits into various climate change scenarios and models.
Our goal at EcoAct is to share our climate data analytics expertise with our clients to transform their business model and move towards global net-zero.
What do we mean by climate data analytics expertise?
The increasing amount of available data is creating new needs for data processing to avoid being overwhelmed by this flow of information. To exploit the potential of data, we need to be able to process it so that stakeholders can understand it, own it, and use it effectively. Therefore, data science and its associated tools offer tremendous opportunities to harness climate data.
The scientific, political and communication practices around data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence have important implications for the climate crisis and for our potential mitigation solutions.
From machine learning to data visualisation, data science techniques are being used to study the effects of climate change on economic and financial systems, mobility patterns, marine biology, land use and restoration, food systems, disease patterns, and many other impacted areas.
Data science is a powerful tool to help understand the uncertainties and ambiguities inherent in data. Data literacy is essential for identifying interventions, strategies and solutions that achieve benefits not only for a company, but also for humanity and the environment, and for assessing the multiple and sometimes conflicting objectives of corporate climate action.
Climate data analysis tools can be seen as tools for organisations to take ownership of the global findings of the IPCC scientific reports at their own scale.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is now seen as a solution for better measurement and ultimately for reducing CO2 emissions; a company can reduce its CO2 emissions by 5 to 10% by using AI (Source: BCG, AI: a concrete solution to accompany the climate transition). It will also contribute to the prediction of risks linked to climate change or to the improvement of long-term projections of localised disasters.
EcoAct uses methods and tools from the rapidly growing field of data science and applies them to climate change and environmental issues. For example, our researchers combine techniques from data science and environmental science to understand business system models and develop strategies that make supply chains more sustainable.
They also examine how machine learning can reduce uncertainty in climate models by improving data quality. Our consultants have developed predictive models that rely on decision tree models to estimate emissions data with impressive accuracy.
EcoAct’s researchers have also developed a bespoke approach to exploit geolocation data and climate models to help define locations that may be affected by extreme weather or other physical climate events. This type of information helps orgnisations anticipate and respond to the large-scale natural disasters associated with climate change.
Many analytical projects are underway at EcoAct to apply data science techniques to real-world problems. For example, recent projects have used climate data to develop reliable climate indicators for the agriculture sector; another project cross-referenced climate data with environmental data to improve prediction of the impact of physical hazards such as flood risk.
Climate Data Analytics at EcoAct: What we do
Thanks to the strong synergies built within the Atos group, EcoAct is now positioned as a key player in climate data and analytics by offering innovative solutions, modelling, and data management services.
We also offer a platform of data and services accessible in SaaS or via API.
Our climate data analytics offer is structured around two main areas:
- Climate data access and management services:
- Support for data acquisition strategy
- Consulting in climate data management
- Access to our database in SaaS or via API
- Application of models to estimate climate data
- Data analysis and predictive modelling services:
- Development of predictive models based on climate data
- Development of alignment path analysis solutions
- Implementation of climate scenario analysis tools (covering physical and transitional risks)