The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report concludes that collective, urgent action is needed to reduce emissions and keep the Earth’s climate within acceptable warming levels. Likewise, significant adaptation efforts will be required to mitigate climate risks and increase resilience.

As these climate risks grow, both companies and governments are increasingly facing the consequences. Tools, products, data and services that can help them either mitigate or adapt to climate change have the potential to drastically lower their impact. In this context, climate services have rapidly started to evolve in recent years, with an influx of many new providers and services. However, the market of climate services still remains in its infancy: current strategies face knowledge and visibility gaps, while the associated economic benefits to users are either unknown or uncertain.

With incongruent demand and supply currently plaguing the market, the EU has shown its willingness to invest in climate services in order to improve their match. Not only do service providers have a low degree of awareness and understanding of potential users, but many users say they cannot find data relevant to non-experts that enable them to make sound business decisions and plan for the future. An open, two-way dialogue that provides a clear value proposition for users and allows for the development of appropriate business models for suppliers will be a much-welcomed step in reaching this untapped market potential.

Climate services in the EU Agenda

The European Commission defines climate services as the transformation of climate-related data – together with other relevant information – into customised products such as projections, trends, economic analysis, counselling on best practices, development and evaluation of solutions and any other service in  relation to climate that may be of use for the society at large (European Commission, 2015).

As such, these services include data, information and knowledge that support adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk management.

The European Research and Innovation Roadmap for Climate Services released in March 2015 sets strong objectives for the development of climate services. It includes three main activities to be carried out within the next 5 to 10 years (EU Research and Innovation, 2015):

  1. Enabling market growth by assessing the nature of climate services market, growing the climate services market and demonstrating the added value. This project addresses mainly this first point and its Main activity 1.1 – Assessing the nature of the climate services market.
  2. Building the market framework by developing communities, infrastructures and international cooperation and setting standards and quality assurance and establishing control, access and legal aspects.
  3. Enhancing the quality and relevance of climate services by providing information frameworks in support of climate services, strengthening the scientific basis and relevance of climate services and creating products corresponding to end users’ needs.

The EU agenda to follow this roadmap includes, among others, further investments in the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) platform, developing applications in the framework of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), a stronger promotion of the European Climate Adaptation for Climate Services (Climate-ADAPT) and the organisation of climate services market research.