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Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Climate Change Indicators The Role of National.

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Presentation on theme: "Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Climate Change Indicators The Role of National."— Presentation transcript:

1 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Climate Change Indicators The Role of National Statistical Offices UN Expert Group Meeting on Climate Change and Sustainable Development New York October 2008 Robert Smith Statistics Canada

2 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Climate change indicators – A Statistical roadmap 1.Framework – What to measure and why? –Two options Policy as the guide Theory as the guide 2.How to measure? Accounting systems Classifications 2

3 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement 3 1. What to measure and why? Frameworks tell us what to measure and why – they are the tools that give structure to statistics –Policy-based frameworks Policy serves as the guide for what to measure and why Most indicators of sustainable development are policy- based –Theory-based frameworks A theoretical understanding of the issue provides the guide for what to measure and why The classic example is economic statistics, where macroeconomic theory guides all data collection

4 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Policy-based frameworks Strengths Strengths –Guaranteed buy-in from stakeholders –Responsive to the express needs of decision makers –Flexible and adaptable as needs and understanding change 4

5 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Policy-based frameworks Drawbacks Not always theoretically defensible Can lead to long indicator lists because of horse-trading Prone to frequent revision, often with every change of government Often differ significantly from one country to the next –Even if the issues actually dont 5

6 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Theory-based frameworks Strengths Politically neutral Can be defended based on agreed principles –Can only be refuted if the theory is refuted Applicable across countries Not inflexible –But also not subject to frequent change 6

7 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Theory-based frameworks Drawbacks Theories that are not widely accepted can lead to statistics that are not relevant Theory may be entirely absent in a given domain, leaving policy as the only guide Theory leaves little room for stakeholder input, possibly limiting buy-in or bringing accusations of elitism 7

8 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Policy or theory as a guide for statistics? Both have their place, but......theory-based frameworks are closer to what statistical offices strive for in general Help ensure political independence of the statistical system Help ensure compactness in indicator sets –No need to add indicators for political acceptability Indicators should form a complete, coherent and interpretable set Stability over time allows time series to be built Wide applicability allows for intl comparisons The question is whether a suitable theory exists for climate change indicators 8

9 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Capital theory as a framework for climate change indicators Climate change impacts are long-term –Capital theory is well suited to long-term issues The standard capital framework must be broadened –Most importantly, to include natural capital –Recognizing human and social capital also important The good news is that much of the thinking has already been done –Rich academic literature –Joint ECE/OECD/Eurostat Working Group on Statistics for Sustainable Development 9

10 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement How to measure? Statistics compatible with those in other domains are needed –Understanding climate change impacts requires linkage of environmental, economic and social data UN System of Environment and Economic Accounts (SEEA) is very close to what is needed –A rigorous framework for organizing environmental stock and flow data –Closely aligned with economic statistics through the System of National Accounts

11 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement 11 Classifications Many existing classifications are relevant –industries, products, census regions Also needed are –ecological classifications –land cover and land use classifications –drainage basin classifications –waste classifications –classifications of ecosystem services Climate change impacts will be spatially differentiated –therefore, spatial classifications are key for analysis

12 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement 12 Data to address climate change impacts Economic and social data reasonably complete –Health data may be an exception Environmental data are where the weaknesses are mainly found, including –Land use and land cover –Water use and availability –Air quality –Ecosystems –Energy

13 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement 13 Thoughts on building environmental data 1.Choose a clear and robust conceptual framework to guide data collection –Avoids ad hoc collection 2.Follow the success story of economic statistics to build environmental statistics programs –Focus on time series of a few key indicators 3. Ensure cooperation between statistical offices and policy departments 4.Bring environmental statistics more into the mainstream –Many opportunities lost today due to poor coordination of effort 5.Build a spatial analysis capacity and collect data that can exploit its potential –Cannot measure climate change impacts except spatially

14 Environment Accounts and Statistics Division Division des comptes et de la statistique de l'environnement Thank you Robert Smith Director, Environment Accounts and Statistics Statistics Canada


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