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Open Climate Data

Climate change is an incredibly complex challenge affecting everyone, especially those living in lower-income countries who are the most vulnerable to extreme, variable weather events and long-term shifts in climate. Adapting to climate change and mitigating its impact will require a high level of coordination within and between societies, involving a wide range of sectors.

Open climate data is essential to supporting such coordination. Specifically, countries should collect and publish climate change-related data in an open format to effectively understand risk, inform policy-making, track progress in meeting commitments and reporting requirements of treaties such as the Paris Agreement, and evaluate the impact of policies. However, at present, climate-relevant data is often “incomplete, fragmented across agencies, and not made available in interoperable and accessible formats.” Making government-held data public is a crucial step to allowing other groups—such as the private sector, academia, and civil society organizations (CSOs)—access to information necessary to identify problems and collaborate on solutions. Equally important is ensuring public officials across all levels of government have the training and resources necessary to implement such solutions.

Open Gov Challenge: Climate and Environment

With OGP’s 2023-2028 Strategy, OGP members are set to work toward a number of aspirational thematic reforms through the Open Gov Challenge. This section of the Open Gov Guide addresses Climate and Environment.

Challenge prompt: Use open government to strengthen implementation of strategies or agreements on climate and environment.

Actions and reforms could include:

  • Implementing provisions in agreements such as the Escazú Agreement, Aarhus Convention, or Paris Agreement.
  • Implementing a climate and environment roadmap or strategy, strengthened through open government approaches.
  • Ensuring public oversight and transparency for climate finance and greening existing fiscal and planning processes.

Key Terms

Definitions for key terms such as climate adaptation, climate data, and climate mitigation.

  • Climate adaptation: Adaptation involves “anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise.”
  • Climate data: In the context of this chapter, climate data refers to “environmental, social and economic data that measure the human causes of climate change, the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems, the efforts of humans to avoid the consequences as well as their efforts to adapt to the consequences.” To be considered “open data,” climate data must be published with the technical and legal characteristics to be “freely used, reused, and redistributed by anyone, anytime, anywhere.” It must also be machine-readable and openly licensed to permit free redistribution and reuse. The climate data in this chapter refers to government-held data unless otherwise stated.
  • Climate mitigation: Mitigation specifically focuses on reducing existing greenhouse gas emission levels and preventing new emissions to make the impact of climate change less severe.

The Evidence

Open climate data can support open government strategies to tackle climate change in several ways.

  • As governments open up more data, their incentives to improve data quality and usability improve. Standardization allows users to improve their validation of climate-relevant data. Opening up climate data can also improve the transparency and accessibility of climate-related models, which are essential to climate adaptation.
  • Governments can improve policy coherence by reducing data fragmentation and improving data standardization and interoperability. This can be done by integrating different data sources into a centralized database, such as across agencies and from non-government entities like the private sector.
  • Beyond opening up climate data, governments can build trust with the public by carrying out campaigns to build users’ awareness of available data and to train them on how to use the data, such as by monitoring climate-related policies.
  • By improving knowledge and data-sharing processes across government, open climate data can streamline how a government reports progress under the Paris Agreement and any other relevant international and regional agreements or standards.

Reform Guidance

The recommendations below represent reforms that national and local governments, representatives of civil society organizations, and others can consider for their action plans and the Open Gov Challenge. The reforms are categorized according to OGP’s principal values: transparency, civic participation, and public accountability. Reforms should be adapted to fit the domestic context, and involve and coordinate with other levels and branches of government.

Reforms across policy areas are also tagged by the estimated degree of difficulty in implementation. Though progress is often not linear, the recommendations have been categorized using these labels to give the reader a sense of how different reforms can work together to raise the ambition of open government approaches.

Recommended Reforms Key

  • Transparency: Transparency empowers citizens to exercise their rights, hold the government accountable, and participate in decision-making processes. Examples of relevant activities include the proactive or reactive publication of government-held information, legal or institutional frameworks to strengthen the right to access information, and disclosing information using open data standards.

  • Civic Participation: When people are engaged, governments and public institutions are more responsive, innovative, and effective. Examples of relevant initiatives include new or improved processes and mechanisms for the public to contribute to decisions, participatory mechanisms to involve underrepresented groups in policy making, and a legal environment that guarantees civil and political rights.

  • Public Accountability: Public accountability occurs when public institutions must justify their actions, act upon requirements and criticisms, and take responsibility for failure to perform according to laws or commitments. Importantly, public accountability means that members of the public can also access and trigger accountability mechanisms. Examples of relevant activities include citizen audits of performance, new or improved mechanisms or institutions that respond to citizen-initiated appeals processes, and improved access to justice.

  • Inclusion: Inclusion is fundamental to achieving more equitable, representative, and accountable policies that truly serve all people. This includes increasing the voice, agency, and influence of historically discriminated or underrepresented groups. Depending on the context, traditionally underrepresented groups may experience discrimination based on gender, sexual identity, race, ethnicity, age, geography, differing ability, legal, or socioeconomic status.

  • Foundational: This tag is used for reforms that are the essential building blocks of a policy area. “Foundational” does not mean low ambition or low impact. These recommendations often establish basic legal frameworks and institutional structures.

  • Intermediate: This tag is used for reforms that are complex and often involve coordination and outreach between branches, institutions, and levels of government, with the public or between countries.

  • Advanced: This tag is used for reforms that close important loopholes to make existing work more effective and impactful. Specifically, “Advanced” reforms are particularly ambitious, innovative or close important loopholes to make existing work more effective, impactful or sustainable. They are often applied in mature environments where they seek to institutionalize a good practice that has already shown results.

  • Executive: The executive branch of government is responsible for designing, implementing, and enforcing laws, policies, and initiatives. It is typically led by the head of state or government, such as a president or prime minister, along with their appointed cabinet members. The executive branch’s functions also include overseeing the day-to-day operations of the government, managing foreign affairs, and directing the country’s armed forces. In democratic systems, the executive branch is accountable to the legislature and the electorate, with its powers and limitations outlined in the constitution or legal framework of the respective country.

  • Legislative: The legislative branch of government is responsible for making laws and regulations and overseeing the functioning of the government. It typically consists of a body of elected representatives, such as a parliament, congress, or assembly, which is tasked with proposing, debating, amending, and ultimately passing legislation. The legislative branch plays a crucial role in representing the interests of the people, as its members are elected to office by the public. In addition to law-making, this branch often holds the power to levy taxes, allocate funds, and conduct certain investigations into matters of public concern. The structure and powers of the legislative branch are usually outlined in a country’s constitution or legal framework, and it serves as a check on the executive and judicial branches to ensure a system of checks and balances within a state.

High-Value Climate Data Checklist

Below is a checklist of common types of high-value climate data to collect and publish, based on research from the Open Data Charter (ODC) and the World Resources Institute (WRI). ODC created an interactive checklist of the high-value components of each dataset, including standards where they exist.

  • National greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data: Identify actions and investments to lower emissions and priority sectors for focused and coordinated action.
  • Agriculture data: Assess vulnerabilities and “more effectively support local adaptation, water use, crop selection, and food security strategies.”
  • Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) data: Increase institutional coordination in land use decision-making to support national mitigation policies, improve accountability, and inform forest management by communities and the private sector.
  • Electricity and stationary energy (i.e. fuel) data: Better coordinate mitigation and adaptation planning due to the high emissions and freshwater impact of this sector, and inform work to increase energy access.
  • Transport data: Support the work of communities, local governments, and the private sector to plan local-level resiliency initiatives and invest in low-carbon transport systems, to mitigate the localized effects of climate change on transport infrastructure. (According to the ODC, “vehicle” includes on-road, rail, aviation, and waterborne vehicles, both passenger and freight.)
  • Waste data: Improve emissions tracking and the “impacts of mitigation activities deployed in the sector.”
  • Natural hazards and impacts data: Better inform disaster risk management and adaptation planning by the public and private sectors, especially at the local level.
  • Climate vulnerability data: Better inform disaster risk management and adaptation planning by the public and private sectors, especially at the local level.
  • Climate finance data: Strengthen accountability and safeguard climate funds from corruption, especially by allowing investors and civil society to understand how funds are spent and their impact to inform future finance flows.

Examples of Reforms from OGP and Beyond

The following examples are commitments previously made within or beyond OGP that demonstrate elements of the recommendations made above. Almost half of OGP member countries have made at least one commitment on open data related to the environment and climate. OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism has evaluated such commitments as more ambitious than average and with more promising results to bring about real-world change.

OGP Reforms
  • CORRIENTES, ARGENTINA Open Data to Enhance Urban Tree Planting: Committed to publishing a dynamic record of existing trees, extractions, replacements, and nurseries in the city to foster civic engagement in environmental management.
  • COSTA RICA Open Public Data on Climate Change: Created an open data portal where climate change-related data is stored and published for public access.
  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Carbon Footprint Calculator for Public Procurement: Committed to creating a Carbon Footprint Calculator to quantify the environmental impact of public procurement projects, which will be available to the public and will play a role in future contracting decisions in the medium term.
  • INDONESIA Open, Centralized Data on Natural Resources: Committed to continuing the “One Indonesian Data” project to publish standardized, centralized government-held data related to natural resources, the environment, and spatial planning. This commitment will also focus on linking data from the national and regional governments.
  • KENYA Data Publication on Climate Change: Committed to publishing data related to climate change, such as information on carbon offset programs, afforestation, and climate change risks.
  • PANAMA Portal on Environmental Information: Committed to updating its national environmental information system (MiAmbiente) to include data that complies with Article 6 of the Escazú Agreement. Carried forward the commitment in its 2023-2025 OGP action plan to continue improving the platform, such as by creating an avenue for feedback.
  • PARAGUAY Disclosure of Standardized Open Climate Data: Launched a monitoring dashboard in 2018, which standardized and centralized open climate data, with data related to water issues, development projects, biodiversity, and climate change.
  • URUGUAY Open Data on the National Energy Efficiency Plan: Made publicly available open data on energy efficiency up to 2021, including a map of energy projects throughout the country, as part of an effort to increase public awareness of energy policy developments.
Beyond OGP Action Plans
  • BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA Open Climate Data: Developed BA Climate Action, a platform that provides citizens with open data and visualizations on initiatives and goals, as well as proposals for participation and collaboration to achieve a resilient, sustainable, and carbon-neutral city.
  • COLOMBIA Platform on Open Data for Agriculture: Created the platform Aclímate Colombia, which integrates several open datasets focused on agriculture resilience to “help farmers understand and adapt to changing weather patterns” and to fuel research on better farming practices..
  • SPAIN Open Climate Data Published: Published open datasets that a multi-stakeholder coalition called Futuro en Común (Common Future) used to review the government’s progress in fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • SWEDEN Strategy to Manage Environmental Data: Developed a joint Environmental Data Management Strategy for several government bodies, which aims to improve the availability and use of environmental data.

The Role of Local Governments

The Paris Agreement requires significant action at the subnational level. The scale of climate change as a threat requires national governments to coordinate closely on climate actions and to empower local jurisdictions to innovate their own solutions. This multifaceted response includes the collection and publication of open climate data.

As the Open Data Charter explains, municipal governments are key in collecting, managing, and publishing climate data from a very localized vantage point. Though more work needs to be done to integrate the data from cities and regions into national datasets, there are some positive developments in this direction. For example, Canada’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement “comprehensively takes into account the GHG emissions reduction estimate of sub-national climate plans and actions,” making it a useful model for other countries.

Additionally, for over 20 years, Disclosure Insight Action (also known as CDP) has provided an open data portal for cities to disclose data regarding their environmental impact. The data helps cities report and assess their impact on their surrounding habitat, with almost 1,000 cities currently publishing their data in an open format. Making environmental data available on local greenhouse gas emissions and environmental risks has made cities like Miami (United States), Paris (France), and Wellington (New Zealand) leaders in climate action.

Subnationally, governments and communities can also use climate-related data in decision-making at the policy and individual levels to ensure that national-level datasets can inform local adaptation and mitigation efforts. In the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a website on climate-related events that includes localized information that can be used to improve resilience.

Who is working on this topic?

Albania Albania
Anloga District, Ghana
Argentina Argentina
Austin, United States
Australia Australia
Banggai, Indonesia
Banská Bystrica, Slovak Republic
Brazil Brazil
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Bulgaria Bulgaria
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso
Canada Canada
Chile Chile
Colombia Colombia
Corrientes (City), Argentina
Costa Rica Costa Rica
Côte d'Ivoire Côte D'ivoire
Croatia Croatia
Denmark Denmark
Detmold, Germany
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic
Ecuador Ecuador
France France
Georgia Georgia
Germany Germany
Greece Greece
Guatemala Guatemala
Gwangju, Republic Of Korea
Gyumri, Armenia
Honduras Honduras
Indonesia Indonesia
Ireland Ireland
Israel Israel
Italy Italy
Jamaica Jamaica
Jordan Jordan
Kaduna State, Nigeria
Kenya Kenya
Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine
Malta Malta
Mendoza, Argentina
Mexico Mexico
Mongolia Mongolia
Morocco Morocco
Nigeria Nigeria
North Macedonia
Panama Panama
Paraguay Paraguay
Paris, France
Peñalolén, Chile
Peru Peru
Philippines Philippines
Plateau, Nigeria
Portugal Portugal
Quintana Roo, Mexico
Republic of Korea Republic Of Korea
Republic of Moldova Republic Of Moldova
Romania Romania
Rosario, Argentina
Rustavi, Georgia
Santo Domingo De Los Tsáchilas, Ecuador
Scotland, United Kingdom
Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana
Senegal Senegal
Shama, Ghana
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone
South Africa South Africa
Spain Spain
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
Tunisia Tunisia
Ukraine Ukraine
United States United States
Uruguay Uruguay
Vanadzor, Armenia
Wassa Amenfi East, Ghana
Yerevan, Armenia

This list reflects members with commitments in the “Environment & Climate” policy area of the Data Dashboard.

Active OGP Partners

The following organizations have recently worked on this issue in the context of OGP at the national or international level. They may have additional insights on the topic. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. If you are interested in national-level initiatives, please contact

Benchmarking Data

The OGP 2023-2028 Strategy sets out the Open Gov Challenge and aims to provide clear benchmarks for performance through reliable data.

While benchmarks for individual countries and Open Gov Guide recommendations are not yet integrated, for this chapter, interested individuals may rely on the following data sets:

  • The World Bank maintains a Climate Change Knowledge Portal that provides global data on historical and future climate trends, vulnerabilities, and impacts. The portal also includes country-level profiles on climate risks and adaptation actions taken to date.
  • Open Data Watch maintains the Open Data Inventory (ODIN). As of 2023, ODIN broadly assesses the openness and breadth of official statistics data for 195 countries. The inventory also includes key climate-related data on the country profile pages across categories 18-22.
  • The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (an initiative under the World Bank) runs the OpenDRI index to identify, assess, and compare key datasets for disaster risk management.
  • The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is a database run by the World Meteorological Organization, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the United Nations Environmental Programme, and the International Science Council. The GCOS seeks to produce accurate, open climate data at the global level.
  • Disclosure Insight Action (also known as CDP) maintains an open data portal for cities to disclose data regarding their environmental impact, with almost 1,000 cities currently publishing their data in an open format.
  • OGP commitments on this topic can be found on the Data Dashboard.

Guidance & Standards

While the list below is not exhaustive, it aims to provide a range of recommendations, standards, and analysis to guide reform in this policy area.

  • The Open Data Charter has several publications with guidance on open climate data, including the Open Up Guide for Climate Action and a set of open data strategies published in collaboration with WRI.
  • The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a multi-stakeholder partnership of CSOs, businesses, and governments convened by the WRI and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. It provides the most widely used standards for GHG accounting to measure emissions. The standards target different actions and actors at the national level (in terms of mitigation goals, policies and actions, and the GHG benefits of mitigation projects) and at the local, corporate, product, and supply chain (Scope 3) levels.
  • The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data published a guide on open climate data for sustainable development and an analysis of the state of SDG data as of September 2023.
  • Adopted in March 2022, the United Nations Statistics Division created a global set of climate change statistics and indicators that can be used as a framework for countries developing their own priorities and resources.
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a key producer of standards and guidance related to open climate data. For example, the UNFCCC published the annual reporting requirements for national GHG inventories that are part of the Paris Agreement. The UNFCCC also hosts a central portal of all documents submitted by national parties to the agreement.
  • The UNECE, focused on Europe, published core climate change-related indicators created by the Conference of European Statisticians (CES). This set of indicators is based on the United Nations System of Environmental-Economic Accounting, which can be used as a standard to develop national-level climate datasets. The UNECE also released implementation guidelines to provide additional support in using the CES core indicators.
  • The World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery published a field guide through its Open Data for Resilience Initiative, which outlines a process for governments and their partners to catalog existing datasets without giving up control to third parties. The guide also provides a way forward to engage communities, especially those at risk of climate change’s negative impacts, in mapping data about their exposure to extreme weather events and other hazards.
  • The Ford Foundation, in collaboration with the Engine Room and Ariadne, has produced resources on the intersection of digital rights and environmental justice, which includes guidance on climate data-related challenges and opportunities.
  • The ONE Campaign published a detailed report on the current obstacles preventing the necessary levels of transparency and oversight of climate finance data. The report also includes specific recommendations to address data gaps and how to accelerate funding for climate-related initiatives.
  • The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science prepared a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change. The submission explores how access to information relates to climate change and human rights.
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