This week the Met Office launched “Climate Service UK”, an initiative providing climate information to help users manage exposure to climate variability and change. On Monday morning I boarded the 05:40 train to London to attend the launch event. With a keynote address from Rt Hon Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, it was no surprise the event (held at the Institute of Physics) attracted the attention of the media; I was sitting a few seats along from Newsnight’s Science Editor Susan Watts.
The programme was packed with expert speakers, and I want to briefly reflect on some of their key messages. Firstly, because they are relevant to anyone working on adaptation whether in research or practice; and secondly, because Adaptation Scotland is already putting these in practice (there’s nothing wrong with self-promotion!)
First off, Professor Julia Slingo OBE, Met Office Chief Scientist, and Edward Davey reminded us that communicating climate information is a skill, and that we must pitch our message at the right level. According to Prof Slingo, talking to people about global mean temperature is meaningless; instead they need to consider what climate change might actually look like. And this is exactly what Adaptation Scotland has been doing with stakeholders in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley, through the Climate Ready Clyde project, as well as the “Are You Ready?” conversations the team has been having with communities across Scotland.
Next up was Colin Drummond OBE, Chief Executive of Viridor and a proponent of adaptation. Mr Drummond was of the opinion that business people who fail to capitalise on climate change are missing profit opportunities and leaving themselves exposed to future risks. And he is right. That’s why Adaptation Scotland has been helping Royal Mail, FirstGroup UK Bus (Scotland) and ScotRail to assess their current and future climate-related business risks. Watch this space for case studies of this work, as well as the launch of our new business adaptation plan template!
Finally, Jeremiah Lengoasa, World Meteorological Organisation Deputy Secretary-General talked about a revolution in the application of climate science. Professor Slingo agreed, stating the need for better local and regional climate information. She even cited the emergence of citizen science, which Sniffer and Adaptation Scotland together with Geo-Geo recently piloted in the Carse of Gowrie. The approach helps communities to record and visualise what matters to them. This can help inform and shape decisions about their local community.
All in all, it was worth the early start to attend the launch. It was interesting to hear how Climate Service UK can help advance the UK’s work on climate adaptation, and it was good to meet leading climate scientists and academics. Most of all though, I am reassured that Adaptation Scotland and Sniffer – together with its partners – are leading the way in contributing to a climate ready Scotland.