Regional decision-makers as potential users of Extreme Weather Event Attribution - Case studies from the German Baltic Sea coast and the Greater Paris area


Extreme Event Attribution has raised increasing attention in climate science in the last years. It means to judge the extent to which certain weather-related extreme events have changed due to human influences on climate with probabilistic statements. Extreme Event Attribution is often anticipated to spur more than just scientific ambition. It is able to provide answers to a commonly asked questions after extreme events, namely, ‘can we blame it on climate change’ and is assumed to support decision-making of various actors engaged in climate change mitigation and adaptation. More in-depth research is widely lacking about who these actors are; in which context they can make use of it; and what requirements they have, to be able to actually apply Extreme Event Attribution. We have therefore addressed these questions with two empirical case studies looking at regional decision-makers who deal with storm surge risks in the German Baltic Sea region and heat waves in the Greater Paris area. Stakeholder interviews and workshops reveal that fields of application and requirements are diverse, difficult to explicitly identify, and often clearly associated with stakeholders' specific mandate, the hazard background, and the regional socio-economic setting. Among the considered stakeholders in the Baltic Sea region, Extreme Event Attribution is perceived to be most useful to awareness-raising, in particular for climate change mitigation. They emphasised the importance of receiving understandable information - and that, rather later, but with smaller uncertainties than faster, but with higher uncertainties. In the Paris case, we typically talked to people engaged in adaptation with expertise in terms of climate science, but narrowly defined mandates which is typical for the Paris-centred political system with highly specialised public experts. The interviewees claimed that Extreme Event Attribution is most useful to political leverage and public discourses. If novel information like this is not sorted out a priori, it needs to be clearly linked to impacts, preferably as monetary values lost. These examples underline the significance of conducting case-specific stakeholder mappings and consultation. Overall, our studies can thereby provide methods and exemplary empirical evidence to support developing useful services from Extreme Event Attribution for targeted groups of users.
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