MARCO Chats with Harilaos Loukos, Chair of the Advisory Expert Committee

In this section, we speak climate services with the MARCO project partners. Our second interview, this short Q&A features Harilaos Loukos with whom we discuss his interest in climate services and how projects like MARCO and EU-MACS will change the future of climate services in Europe.

MARCO: What sparked your interest in the Climate Services?
Harilaos: After my post doc I started a commercial climate information service focusing on climate change. That was 15 years ago and there was not enough market demand for long-term climate information services to allow us to grow as a company. We had to move our services to shorter time scales and successfully evolved as a weather service for retailers and energy providers. The company was ultimately acquired by the world’s largest commercial weather service and I now have the opportunity to contribute to the climate services market with a new company.

MARCO: What would you say are the obstacles that stand in the way of strengthening the Climate Services community?
Harilaos: It hasn’t reached a critical mass yet. Only a minority of players consider themselves as being part of it, mostly the ones involved in H2020 projects and Copernicus activities but there are many more. The lack of a clear definition and uptake of the term by the private sector is probably one reason. The other is that there are different communities such as the climate information providers, the climate change adaptation practitioners, the disaster risk management professionals, various types of consultants (urban planners, environmental, engineering, risk etc..) that have activities related to what we can envision as components of “Climate Services” but call them differently or don’t necessarily see it as such. This is probably because the term CS is too generic and tries to broadly cover the “what” by describing the services, rather than the “why” which is to build climate resilience.

MARCO: How do you think projects like MARCO and EU-MACS will change the future of climate services in Europe?
Harilaos: Well, changing the future starts with understanding the present. We don’t have a clear view of what the CS market really is and what is impeding its growth.

MARCO and EU-MACS are addressing these questions to provide the first comprehensive answers. It will be an important milestone for all market players and I am sure it will have a positive impact, at least on the short term. But on the long run we can only know if we monitor market trends regularly. That’s why the second goal of MARCO is to set the foundation of a Climate Service Market Observatory. A goal that has growing importance in the context of the recently announced new EU budget.

Earlier this month the European Commission proposed to dedicate 25% of its newly unveiled budget to respond to climate change. Under the new proposals, covering the years 2021 to 2027, a total of €320 billion will be spent on climate adaptation and mitigation, an increase of €114 billion compared to the last budget. More fundamentally, all investments funded through the EU budget need to be resilient to future climate conditions. This will obviously boost the CS market making it essential, if not mandatory, to regularly evaluate CS market trends and related job creation in parallel with some measure of societal resilience to climate. Otherwise, how do we know that we are spending those billions rightfully? That’s where the Climate Services Market Observatory can have a fundamental role to play over the next decade.

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