How open data can help countries address climate emergency impacts

April 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

How open data can help countries address climate emergency impacts Delfina Grinspan Wed, 04/07/2021 – 01:30 This article originally was published on World Resources Institute . In the aftermath of the 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia, in 2016, disaster managers were able to able to identify which communities were at greatest risk due to rapid access to data. They used the open source InaSAFE platform to access real-time hazard data and modeled population data mapped down to the village level. This was made possible by the collaborative use of “open” data — data that is free to use, open license and in machine-readable formats — between scientists, local and national governments and communities. By using open data, disaster managers were able to develop 20 disaster contingency plans with communities. While earthquakes are not climate-driven, the damage they cause is similar to that of extreme weather, and this example demonstrates the importance of openly sharing data. Indeed, there are big payoffs for both civil society and governments that implement open data policies. The idea of making data open is nothing new, but for many countries the challenge of doing so and the investment upfront means that much of the critical climate-related data that governments need remains locked away or in unusable formats. In some cases, the barrier is cultural or political: if sharing data and information has not been previously expected or enforced, there may be inertia to changing practices, a desire to withhold information as a source of power or, in some cases, fear of accountability. Additionally, implementing open data practices requires staff time and technical capacity to set up the data infrastructure to publish online and ensure that it is updated, curated and easy to find. The scale and urgency of the climate crisis requires coordination across sectors and collaboration with non-state actors and civil society. And it couldn’t be more critical: countries must demonstrate increased climate ambition while building trust — both domestically and internationally — through the transparent and accountable implementation of policies. By applying open data principles governments can strengthen cooperation, identify the data needs of different users, reduce redundancies in reporting to donors, build trust with their constituencies and enable innovation.   The idea of making data open is nothing new, but for many countries the challenge of doing so and the investment upfront means that much of the critical climate-related data that governments need remains locked away or in unusable formats. New research from WRI and the Open Data Charter reveals not only what some of the big payoffs are, but how to achieve them. Here are four of the many benefits countries can expect from implementing open data policies for addressing the climate emergency: 1. Improved decision-making Climate risks cut across government sectors — such as water, agriculture and energy — and solutions for one sector can have positive or negative consequences for another. Therefore, integrating data from across sectors is important for informing decisions and ensuring coherent and equitable responses. When data is readily accessible, well-publicized and free to use, it can be centralized in an easier-to-find location, which builds users’ awareness of what is available and reduces the burden of searching for and requesting data. Take the example of the Climate Just tool, which combines open data from government and academic sources to visually display how heatwaves, flooding and other extreme climate events will affect disadvantaged and impoverished communities. Developed by a team of researchers and developers from civil society, academia and government in the United Kingdom, the tool was used by the New Economy — the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s policy and research arm — in its mapping system to assess the climate vulnerability of over 1,000 potential sites for development. By making data available to citizens and developers the aim was to help increase transparency and engagement in the planning process. The city’s Fire and Rescue Service also used the platforms to quantify exposure to flood risk, helping potentially inform response efforts in the future. 2. Strengthened collaboration Open data reinforces collaborative action by helping build an understanding of risks and priorities, as well as sustaining partnerships between actors with different sets of expertise. This is especially important for climate action given that the analyses needed — such as downscaling global climate models or creating vulnerability assessments — can require complex techniques and specialized knowledge. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries cannot afford to lose time through uncoordinated approaches. In the same way, open data makes it possible for those who have data analysis expertise to partner with those who represent the needs of affected communities. In Malabon City in the Philippines, for example, known for its frequent flooding, a coalition of international NGOs and civil society organizations from the Global South were able to use information from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to adapt existing flood warning systems for the local context. With this information they were better able to identify the most at-risk areas and place flood risk maps at strategic locations in flood-prone neighborhoods. This also led to a shift in mindsets around disaster preparation and further community participation in developing evacuation plans. 3. Enhanced monitoring Open data also can play an important role in monitoring climate policies and programs. When relevant data and information is made accessible, citizens are better able to engage in formal and informal monitoring processes in an evidence-based manner. By improving knowledge and data sharing across agencies and levels of government, open data also can strengthen governments’ monitoring and reporting frameworks under the Paris Agreement. In Costa Rica, for example, the development of the National System of Climate Change Metrics (Spanish) strengthened relationships and institutional arrangements between various data-producing government agencies to produce an open data platform on a wide range of climate change drivers, risks and responses — something that reportedly had been lacking due to the effort required to establish processes for consistent data sharing. The Climate Change Directorate expects this will help the country transition to new reporting procedures under the Paris Agreement’s enhanced transparency framework. 4. Improved modeling Additionally, it’s important to note open data’s contribution to improved, accessible and accountable modeling. Modeling exercises underlie many climate change analyses — from estimating risks of climate-related hazards to generating credible projections of future greenhouse gas emissions. Data availability and transparency are critical to building context-specific models that are trusted and reliable and can be effectively used in national, sectoral and local planning. In Chile, the research institute CR2 has created climate simulations at the national and regional level using, in part, publicly accessible global and national datasets. These models, as well as other data made available through CR2’s platform (Spanish) , are widely used by Chilean stakeholders from all sectors, including the government. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries cannot afford to lose time through uncoordinated approaches. As these examples demonstrate, governments can spur collaboration and build trust with civil society, operate more efficiently and ensure their climate actions are informed by best available data. Pull Quote The idea of making data open is nothing new, but for many countries the challenge of doing so and the investment upfront means that much of the critical climate-related data that governments need remains locked away or in unusable formats. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries cannot afford to lose time through uncoordinated approaches. Contributors Jesse Worker Topics Data Risk & Resilience Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Buildings damaged in a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in 2016 in the Pidie Jaya Regency, Aceh Province of Indonedia.  Shutterstock teuku rizal dc Close Authorship

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How open data can help countries address climate emergency impacts

The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan

April 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 04/07/2021 – 01:15 Within President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan — the American Jobs Plan — unveiled last week, the White House is proposing a massive $174 billion investment “to win the EV market.” It’s a historic move that will have deep implications for the emerging U.S. EV industry. If it passes Congress mostly intact, we could see Americans’ use of plug-in vehicles jump considerably. A lot of ideas are in the plan, and many impacts will result from it. Here are 10 important bits to know about the planned federal investments for electric vehicles and EV infrastructure (and a reminder that we’re hosting an event about many of these pressing topics, VERGE Electrify online May 25 and 26): 1. It’s a boost for EV chargers: Biden has been calling for a goal of 500,000 chargers built out across the U.S. by 2030 since before the election. His infrastructure plan says the federal government will help achieve that goal by creating grant and incentive programs for local and state governments as well as the private sector to deploy EV chargers. Companies that own EV charging assets, such as ChargePoint and Tesla, saw a big boost to their stock prices following the release of the plan last week. 2. There’s a big push to electrify transit and school buses: The plan calls for replacing 50,000 diesel-powered transit vehicles as well as electrifying 20 percent of the U.S. school bus fleet through a new Clean Buses for Kids Program. Electric transit and school buses are two types of vehicles that already have been quickly electrifying because transit agencies and school districts can save money on fuel and maintenance costs while reducing air pollution for riders. What these organizations need is incentives to reduce the upfront purchase price of the electric vehicles, which are still more expensive than their diesel-powered counterparts.  3. Ditto the federal fleet: The plan also calls for electrifying vehicles in the federal fleet, including the United States Post Office. Details are sparse at this point, but it’s good to know that the elusive and complicated USPS will be a target. 4. It would buoy domestic EV production: Asian countries own the world’s EV battery production markets. But Biden is hoping to boost domestic manufacturing of batteries and EVs through incentives for automakers. Former President Barack Obama’s green recovery stimulus invested in battery and EV manufacturing with some mixed results. Biden’s plan should make sure to invest in scaling up already proven companies and technologies, instead of betting on emerging ones.  5. It includes incentives for Americans to buy EVs: The plan says it will give EV buyers “point of sale” rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made EVs. Despite the dropping costs of batteries and EVs, consumers still need incentives to buy more expensive electric cars. Biden reportedly plans to extend the current $7,500 federal tax credit, an amount that diminishes for vehicles built by automakers including Tesla and General Motors that already have sold over 200,000 electric vehicles. Biden could drop that 200,000 ceiling as well as enhance incentives for EV buyers in disadvantaged communities. 6. It prioritizes building out transmission lines and clean energy: If many of America’s vehicles go electric, we’ll need more electricity, and the nation’s electric grid will have to get more resilient and cleaner. Biden’s plan calls for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to cover transmission lines (which will provide much-needed financing ), as well as energy storage projects. It also would extend the ITC and the Production Tax Credit for another decade. The plan also mentioned a Clean Electricity Standard, which would set goals for the percentage of clean energy required each year. Many states including California have set state-level renewable portfolio standards that have been successful in boosting clean energy. 7. It prioritizes racial justice: Biden’s plan uniquely says it will use its overall infrastructure investments to prioritize “addressing long-standing and persistent racial injustice.” Forty percent of the total planned investments (not specific for EVs) will create climate and clean energy benefits for disadvantaged communities.  8. Decarbonizing transit is a big focus: Beyond EVs, the Biden infrastructure plan calls for investing $85 billion into “modernizing existing transit,” and help transit agencies expand systems to boost ridership. There’s also $80 billion for intercity rail systems such as Amtrak. This is essentially a doubling of federal investment in public transit, and transit advocates are saying this a ” dramatic shift ” in transportation spending. 9. Corporate taxes will feed funding: Biden seeks to raise corporate taxes, raising $2 trillion over the next 15 years. Corporations would see a boosted tax rate of 28 percent, and some offshore tax loopholes would be closed. 10. The proposal still needs to get through Congress: Biden’s plan likely will see significant reshaping as it spends months making its way through Congress. What’s been floated now is an aspirational initial draft. Still, the plan is historic and could help kick-start a real EV revolution in the U.S.  Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Investments in electrified public and school transportation options is just one piece of President’ Biden’s infrastructure proposals.

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The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan

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