On Monday 28 November 2011 in New Delhi a roundtable discussion on Indo-European Cooperation on Climate Research and innovation was organised by the EU Delegation to India in cooperation with Department of International Development (DFID), UK and the EU's FP7 project "HighNoon". 35 participants from research, policy and donor organisations from the EU and India discussed state of the art, research gaps and innovations in the fields of climate science and adaptation to climate change.
Main goals of the roundtable discussion were:
- Exchange information on current climate change bi- and multilateral cooperation projects between the EU, its Member States and India
- Analyse the main research challenges, gaps and opportunities
- Identify areas of potential synergies to foster a more coordinated and interactive climate research environment
- Explore cooperation instruments and funding opportunities for coordination of new research and innovation actions / projects in 2012 and later.
The discussion was centred around four blocks ranging from ‘Drivers of climate change’, ‘Impacts and vulnerabilities’ to ‘Adaptation’ and, finally, ‘Financing’. In each block, short 10-minute presentations of top-level researchers were followed by focussed discussions. Each participant was asked to give a brief statement on the state of the art and a listing of research gaps and challenges. In addition, funding organisations presented their latest projects and possibilities for new funding. At the end of the day a mind-mapping exercise was conducted to create an overall picture of what needs to be done in the near future to get ahead with climate science and adaptation, with a specific focus on the Indian sub-continent.
Click here to view the list of presentations.
In recent years there has been considerable progress in understanding the drivers of climate change and their impact on main processes, like change in the rate of glacier melt (locally of relevance), future trends in precipitation (on average stable) and temperature (increasing 2-5 degrees). The latest and most regionalized climate runs (e.g. HighNoon project) have enabled more local predictions and have fed detailed impact models. On an even smaller scale a dense measurement network is developed to advance our knowledge of the impact of climate change on urban areas (e.g in Mumbai). Climate change and adaptation is strongly embedded in GoI policies and DST research programmes. It is also one of the main focusses of international (bi- and multilateral) funding organisations, with new cooperation between the EU, EU member states and India taking place, as well as with regional partners like ICIMOD. More possibilities for multilateral research are expected to be provided by the upcoming very large EU FP7 research call.
Still by most speakers (see presentations) and in the discussions (see mind map) it was highlighted that there are considerable research gaps. And if one needed to define an overarching topic describing this gap it could be ‘Extremes’. Most advances in recent years have been made in understanding changes in the average situation with regard to climate change, like the expected gradual increase in temperature over the subcontinent. But it is more and more recognized that we now get to a stage, where it becomes vital to look at the extremes, as these relate to the locations where we lack knowledge, to the timing of severe impacts and to the boundary conditions within which adaptation needs to take place.
‘Extremes’ as research gap
- Measure on more extreme locations under more extreme conditions - the high mountains; alternatively, define and test methods to extrapolate averages and plains to the extremes (elevation, distributions)
- Develop regional output from more extreme emission scenarios (as follow-up to A1B regional models from the HighNoon projects). IPCC AR5 indicates that more extreme scenarios might become more realistic
- Move from analysing averages to extremes (and variability) in the climate model output data
- Improve modelling of extremes in monsoon precipitation
- Go to more extremes in terms of spatial and temporal resolution when it comes to impacts in urban areas; local and hourly observational data is needed
- Focus adaptation on extremes and variability; in many instances these define the vulnerability to a large extent
Apart from topics related to ‘extremes’, several other important issues were identified. It was discussed that the impact side of climate change assessments needs considerable improvement. These assessments should be more closely linked to land use scenarios and socio-economic development scenarios, both to get better understanding of future impacts as well as to define better adaptation strategies, in which land use is often an important component. On a more broader level this refers to the linkage between climate adaptation and sustainable development. Furthermore, the impacts on vulnerable ecosystems, species, the ecological processes as well as ecosystem services should urgently be integrated into the climate change agenda.
The concept of climate services got prominent attention. How to get ahead is an open question. At what scale should climate services be developed (state, national, local)? To what extent is this hampered by data exchange between countries and regions? How to pave the path for the private sector to develop further new business concepts for climate services (both supply and demand need to be stimulated)?
In addition it was discussed how climate adaptation programmes and measures could be monitored and evaluated and in particular whether it is possible to measure impacts of adaptation. This is becoming a more prominent issue as funding is increasing. However, it remains difficult to distinguish climate from non-climate stressors and climate adaptation from sustainable development efforts, inhibiting clear labelling.
Finally, it was indicated that funding for climate adaptation in the Indian subcontinent is still increasing. This provides interesting opportunities to advance our knowledge on climate change and adaptation, turn it into innovation and get ahead with implementation. Coordination of the efforts in the region will enhance possibilities to achieve these objectives. The outcome of this roundtable discussion is a next step on the path to improve synchronisation and coordination of climate change related research, innovation and funding.