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8 Dec 2015

White paper aims to raise standards and accountability of climate services

A Loughborough University professor and community of practitioners have published a draft white paper calling for an ethical framework for the climate services.

As awareness grows of the potential threats and opportunities posed by climate change, nations and agencies worldwide are increasingly looking to invest in preventative measures. But with increased demand and new commercial opportunities comes greater scope for malpractice and maladaptation.

Misuse and misrepresentation of climate services, such as failure to disclose research limitations and putting commercial interests ahead of human security can result in costly and potentially life-threatening consequences.

In the white paper Toward an ethical framework for climate services Professor Rob Wilby and colleagues Peter Adams (Acclimatise), Erika Eitland (Harvard University), Bruce Hewitson (University of Cape Town), Catherine Vaughan and Stephen Zebiak (both Columbia University) outline four cornerstones of the ethical framework: integrity, transparency, humility and collaboration.

Rob Wilby, Professor of Hydroclimatic Modelling in Loughborough University’s Department of Geography said:

“The World Bank estimates that $75-100 billion per year over the next 40 years is needed to protect us from the worldwide negative effects of dangerous climate change[1]. But if these projects are based on inaccurate data or unreliable products, there is significant potential to cause harm or waste money.

“As climate scientists, we have a responsibility to ensure the information we provide is as accurate as possible; we must ensure our methods and data are transparent and fit for purpose.

“The white paper is intended to start a conversation on ethics in the climate services community. Our hope is that it will one day become the hallmark of quality and integrity for products and practise in the sector.”

The white paper has already been endorsed by organisations including the Red Cross, Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, and the Global Framework for Climate Services. It has been reported in the latest WMO bulletin which coincides with this month's 2015 United Nations conference on climate change in Paris.

Members of the climate services community are being invited to feed back on the paper at www.climate-services.org/ethics

 

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 15/223

[1] http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climatefinance/overview#1

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. It was 2nd in the 2015 THE Student Experience Survey and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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