‘Technology can stop $66bn in damages from climate change’

A new paper highlights the importance of data for developing countries tackling the climate crisis

Pathway to COP26 report

Technology-enabled solutions can prevent up to $66 billion (£49bn) in the loss and damage each year caused by climate change.

That’s according to a new paper from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, which has placed heavy emphasis on the key role technology can play for developing countries in tackling the climate crisis.

It estimates that the cost of adapting to the threat climate change poses could range from $280 billion (£210bn) to $500 billion (£376bn) each year, with those in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa the most heavily impacted.

The report puts technology at the heart of tackling this and saving this cost with early action.

It identifies three key tools that can help governments work out which technologies will be relevant for them.

These include a ‘Use-Case Library’, which provides policymakers with the most up-to-date tech that is suitable for specific response activities and preparation; a ‘Complexity versus Impact model’ – a tool that highlights the pros and cons of using certain tech for achieving different outcomes and ‘Decision Trees’, which bring both the ‘Use-Case Library’ and ‘Complexity versus Impact model’ together – explaining the process of using the highlighted technologies.

In addition to understanding which tech can help each country’s differing problems, another issue the paper spotlights is ineffectual data management practice.

It claims these can be helped by looking at the practices used by organisations such as the Centre for Humanitarian Data, which lays out more streamlined and consistent standards of practice.

Another issue the paper underlines is that many governments in developing countries are forced to use externally developed technologies in their national systems, which can lead to problems with interoperability and cause friction in the systems.

To combat this, the Institute stresses that governments should use open-source software, as it prevents lock-ins, friction and makes their data more available for use and easy reference when planning climate-based action.

It concludes: “Technology can transform disaster management, saving lives and livelihoods and reducing costs from damage and loss through early warning and early action.

“For governments to use disruptive tech-driven approaches to transform disaster-management systems, they need to know how technologies support and strengthen early-warning and early-action efforts, which different technological solutions should be used under which circumstances, and how to implement strong coordination and data-management processes and policies.”

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