Innovation: Climate Change Community Response Portal

Last update: 14.07.2013
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Keywords: 
decision making support‚ public awareness campaign‚ climate protection‚ information system‚
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in 2007 that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level.

Recent research shows that mean annual temperatures in Finland have increased as well, by about 0.7°C during the 20th century, with the greatest warming in spring and modest warming in summer and autumn. Continued or accelerated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are expected to cause further warming and induce changes in the global climate system during this century that will very likely be even larger. In northern Europe, including Finland, warming is projected to be more rapid than the global average and accompanied by higher precipitation, especially in the winter.

Climate change is central to EU environmental policy and legislation, and the EU has taken a leading role globally in tackling the issue. It has already agreed to cut emissions of GHGs by at least 20% by 2020, or 30% provided that other industrialized countries come aboard. Further emissions reductions of 60-80% by 2050 will be required in the EU and other industrialized countries in order to stabilise global CO2 concentrations at a level of 550 ppm.There is a large and growing body of information about climate change available on the internet.

However, the quality of this information is highly variable, with reliable, peer-reviewed research results to be found alongside other material that is less rigorous and in some cases highly misleading.

PROJECT GOALS:

The EU project coordinated by the Finnish Meteorological Institute will result in an easy-to-use layman’s web service that helps Finnish local and regional authorities to meet the requirements of sustainable development.

The portal enables regional investigation of climate change and its impacts; this information can then be utilised when considering the alternative approaches of mitigation and adaptation. Representatives of many municipal bodies will participate in the development and testing of the portal. This helps ensure that the portal will become a concrete and user-friendly tool, especially for actors at local and regional levels.

The portal also makes it possible to obtain a comprehensive picture of climate change and its current situation. Data produced by different actors are collected and organised in a compatible form that enables parallel examination and comparisons. The portal is built in cooperation by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the Finnish Environment Institute, and Helsinki University of Technology/Centre for Urban and Regional Studies. The intention is that later the portal will also be supplemented with tools and information produced by other actors.

The portal, to be implemented in Finnish, Swedish and English, is also well suited for increasing general awareness of climate change. Schools and educational institutions can utilise the portal as teaching material. The portal has web-tools that illustrate
the various aspects of climate change:
• The Climate Change Explained Wizard is an e-learning tool explaining the background and mechanisms of climate change.
• The Climate Data and Scenarios Wizard describes the current and future climate at local and regional levels.
• The Impacts Wizard describes the environmental impacts of climate change.
• The Community Response Wizard is a local-scale tool supporting adaptation and mitigation measures taken by local actors.
The Finnish Climate Change Community Response Portal aimed to

1. raise awareness about global climate change and its implications for Finland
2. communicate scientific information in an understandable way to the general public on climate change, its impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation response at the community level
3. offer guidance to local decision makers, especially at the municipal and regional level, on integrating climate change information into their planning and decision making processes
4. assist the Finnish municipalities and regions in meeting their national and EU responsibilities for sustainable development, including the achievement of targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
5. improve the adaptation capacity of Finlands environment and society to avoid the adverse effects of climate change and to make use of its potential benefits
6. enhance the networking of key national institutions working to disseminate climate change information and to raise awareness
7. create a common platform for different institutions to deliver climate change information in an integrated manner to various target groups and the general public.
The Finnish Climate Change Community Response Portal successfully created an extensive website/portal combining relevant and reliable climate change information in one place. It structured the material to offer guidance to local decision makers, especially at the municipal and regional level, on integrating climate change information into their planning and decision making processes.

The project collected, screened and classified the wealth of climate change information into three groups. These formed the basis for three components of the web-portal:

1. A ‘Climate change explained’ section, which provides research-based information on physical climate science, focusing especially on climatic changes in Finland as well as impacts, mitigation and adaptation measures. This section consists of mainly web articles produced in a standard format providing references and links to further information.

2. A ‘Maps, graphs and data’ section, which provides users with observed and anticipated data on climate change and its impacts, in the convenient form of maps and graphs. With the help of an easy-to-use interface, citizens and decision makers can learn from the past and look to the future.

3. A ‘Community Response Wizard’, which offers support as well as options for adaptation and mitigation for local-scale planning and decision-making in municipalities. It helps the user to quickly grasp the main impacts of climate change in any sphere of activity, understand the possibilities for adaptation and mitigation in municipalities, find the most suitable set of actions and find case studies and best practices.

The website was designed specifically to be easy-to-use for people who do not have scientific training, but need to use climate change-related information in their daily work, for example as planners and decision-makers. It enables quick and easy-to-access to reliable and up-to-date information on all aspects of climate change as well as providing a starting point for the user to explore the issue in depth.The website has demonstrated a means of structuring climate change information that is easy to understand and manageable, but also rigorous and comprehensive.

It should assist municipalities and regions in meeting their national and EU responsibilities for sustainable development, including the achievement of targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The beneficiary hopes the portal will become an official reference for authorities regarding climate change issues.Further information on the project can be found in the projects layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan.
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This innovation is the result of the project

Title: Climate Change Community Response Portal

Acronym: 
CCCRP

Runtime: 
01.01.2009 to 31.12.2011

Status: 
completed project

Organisations and people involved in this eco-innovation.

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FINNISH METEOROLOGICAL INSTITUTE

(Finland)

Role in project: Project Coordination

Contact person: Mr. KARHU Juha

Website: http://www.fmi.fi/cccrp

Phone: +358-50 359 2183

Contact