COP26: A window on change

COP26 presented an opportunity for leaders in climate change modelling to look forward to how the whole market can move together, faster, reflects JBA Risk Management’s Dr Emma Raven.

The UN climate change conference, COP26, may have been and gone, but the memories from my first attendance at this important conference live on.

From noisy demonstrators through to frantic media commentators and the tears of Alok Sharma, the event was clearly one of mixed emotions for all involved.

As a participant, it was a real honour to be part of this historic event – as we all look for ways to help better understand and model the impact of climate change and empower individuals, businesses, and governments to address the challenges facing us all.

I was in Glasgow as the guest of broker Willis Towers Watson and took part in a powerful discussion as part of the launch of the Global Resilience Index Initiative from the Centre for Greening Finance and Investment.

The panel, made up of leaders from Jupiter Intelligence, Nasdaq, Oxford University, the UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment, Fathom, and host Willis Towers Watson, was centred on issues close to JBA’s heart – namely the role of open-source data and modelling in promoting and encouraging increased resilience to physical climate risk.

As a business that has gained significant experience and expertise in developing globally consistent flood data, and now applying our global flood modelling capability to understand the impacts of climate change in different parts of the world, JBA were delighted to have the opportunity to share insights with delegates.

There is no doubt in our mind that the availability of data and modelling of natural catastrophes such as flood supports and encourages increased resilience within financial, societal, and economic communities at all scales and regions.

Open-source data has a really important role to play – especially for modelling flood which requires granular, high-res data on a global scale. The availability of global, reliable, data such as open exposure data and open climate data from CMIP (Climate Model Intercomparison Project) is critical to progression. In addition, the industry already has an open-source platform framework in Oasis, which continues to resolve various problems of commonality and interoperability.

As we move forward however, the ability to run more data with ever-larger models and multiple scenarios becomes increasingly important and having more standardised open data and tools to support these would be beneficial to providers and users.

Progress is the ultimate aim for the whole modelling market. There is a need for constant innovation, for example the growth of machine learning techniques in addressing some existing limitations in flood modelling, our own modelling technology, and the development of ever more powerful computational capability.

However, there is also a real need, for climate change modelling in particular, for guidance and suggested standards around data and output metrics. As such, JBA supports the vision presented during the event for a guidance and reference framework to promote transparency and accessibility for climate-conditioned catastrophe models and to promote understanding of the benefits of various outputs.

The event in Glasgow also highlighted the benefits of public and private sector collaboration and showcased this with a pilot case study in Java. This project, bringing together expertise and capability from different sectors, demonstrated the value of open-source data and the progress being made in understanding financial risks under a changing climate.

The wide-ranging discussions covered a lot of ground and identified a broad consensus for the need for the model development industry to move as one to delivering consistent data, and to develop and embrace standard frameworks to represent the fundamental climate parameters that determine use and provenance of models.

In the final analysis, whilst the success or otherwise of COP26’s over-arching aims will be judged by history, there can be no doubt that the risks of climate change are now high up, if not atop, of many businesses agendas.

The modelling industry has a key role to play in helping improve understanding and knowledge of the impacts of climate change, and facilitating positive action by individuals, businesses, local authorities and governments.

For more information on JBA's work in climate change, get in touch with the team today.