Climate Action Unit


Blog: Introducing climate metrics for researchers, journalists and data visualisers

8 August 2023

A lowdown on the mini-series of events hosted by the Climate Action Unit to present a new dashboard of climate metrics to journalists, data visualisers and communication experts.

CAU director presenting metrics

In July 2023, the Climate Action Unit ran a series of events to introduce a trio of metrics which help people to link the changes happening in the climate system with the changes they experience in their daily lives.

The metrics were designed as communication tools. From the outset, the design team worked to address the limitations that existing climate change metrics face. 

Each event in the series was tailored for different professional communities who might use the metrics in rheir work with the wider public. A summary of these events is provided below.

Online events: London Climate Action Week + workshops for data visualisation experts and journalists

The first event, 'Climate Change in Numbers', was delivered online during London Climate Action Week 2023 to 60+ participants from around the world.

At this event Kris De Meyer and Lucy Hubble-Rose explained how the metrics had been developed, and explained how they had drawn inspiration from looking at how the R-number had helped communicate Covid risk during the pandemic.

Iterative design process

The team also delivered online workshops with data visualisation experts and climate journalists to explore how the new metrics can be used in the practice of those professions.

Within news reporting, for example, climate metrics can be used to provide context for changes being witnessed in business and finance sectors. This way of using climate metrics is different from the norm: far more often climate metrics are deployed as warning headlines e.g. "World exceeds 400ppm threshold as fossil fuel burning continues".

The metrics were also introduced to data specialists in the policy sector at an Institute for Government event on 5 June - click here to watch the event back.

In-person events: collaborators + researchers

On 5th July, the Climate Action Unit ran two workshops and a reception to convene experts and collaborators involved in this project.

At a workshop for Early Career Researchers, Lucy Hubble-Rose explained how following a design-led approach could enable the participants to create metrics for their own work - helping them to communicate science to the public more effectively.

Questions to early researchers

At a parallel workshop for emerging journalists, participants explored how the regional comparisons built into the new metric dashboard could help them write stories that speak to the changes people are experience to their weather locally.

Activities for Journalists

Both sets of workshop participants then joined the evening event with climate policy experts, research funders, experienced journalists, UCL colleagues and project collaborators for an opportunity to interact with the metrics and ask questions.

This included staff from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, BBC, NERC, Chatham House, IPPR, WWF and Northstar Transition.

climate metrics screenshot high resolution

Could your work use metrics like these?

To use the dashboard in your own work please reach out to us at climateactionunit@ucl.ac.uk.

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