On 14 May the new book on climate change in the Baltic Sea basin and related impacts was presented and discussed at the 2nd European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCA) in Copenhagen. This event seemed perfect for this purpose as several hundred scientists, practitioners, politicians and other stakeholders gathered at the ECCA conference to discuss the state of the science and adaptation strategies regarding the challenge of climate change.
In the morning, Marcus Reckermann, coordinator of the book project, presented some core results on behalf of the authors. Then, in a midday plenary, BACC initiator and chairman Hans von Storch of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht and University of Hamburg, gave some background information on the BACC scope and process, followed by a vivid panel discussion. Members of the discussion panel next to Hans were (from left to right): Deliang Chen of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, renown climate scientists and former Executive Director of ICSU (International Council of Science), Lykke Leonardsen, co-organizer of the ECCA conference and head of the Climate Unit of the City of Copenhagen, and Maxi Nachtigall, Advisor at CBSS (Council of the Baltic Sea States), a political forum for regional intergovernmental cooperation between the Baltic Sea states. The midday session was chaired by Jürgen Kropp of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the discussion was moderated by Marcus Reckermann of the International Baltic Earth Secretariat.
The discussion evolved around two questions: Firstly, what are the differences between BACC and the IPCC reports (and why are regional reports necessary), and secondly, specifically addressed to the two ladies, what is the use for stakeholders? Here is the attempt of a very brief summary:
Why a regional report?
The first question was taken up by Hans who pointed out that regional experts know the conditions in their region better than “global” experts. Also, regional decision makers require regional knowledge, as highly resolved as possible. Hans also stressed the aspect that knowledge is more important than authors, which is manifested by the fact that the new BACC report was authored by a completely new group of authors, who nevertheless confirmed the knowledge of the first report of 2008. Deliang mentioned the aspect that BACC is an independent “bottom-up” effort organized by scientists while IPCC is a political organization under governmental influence. Still both approaches have their justification and should be considered as complementary rather than competitive.
The question whether the previous BACC material had been used by the stakeholder community was candidly discussed. Both representatives from the stakeholder community confirmed that the BACC material has been useful, but they also revealed potential for improvement. Maxi suggested that a cooperation with other stakeholders similar to the one with HELCOM would be desirable, so that the material could be better shaped for the specific stakeholder needs. Lykke pointed out that it is virtually impossible for a practitioner in a city administration to work through the whole book and find the gems which are relevant for their work. “Help us find the diamonds”, Lykke said, and Hans replied that scientists do not know what the true diamonds for specific stakeholder groups are. “You need to tell us what you need to know”, he said. Also the envisaged publication of small summary booklets in the many languages of the Baltic Sea region, may only partly solve this problem.
It seems that if we really want to provide useful information not only for the scientific community, we need to communicate on a par and in an open way. Maybe this resume has also relevance for the complete conference.