Global Climate Change

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Global climate models developed by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict glacial retreat, rises in sea level, and other impacts on human and natural activity, from agriculture to migratory patterns. RAND researchers have studied and are continuing to examine the effects of climate change, particularly how governments and businesses respond to both observed changes and projected scenarios.

  • The hydroelectric dam Cachi in Ujarras de Cartago, 60 miles of San Jose, Costa Rica, May 25, 2007, photo by Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters

    Report

    The Benefits and Costs of Decarbonizing Costa Rica's Economy

    Nov 24, 2020

    Costa Rica set the ambitious goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. An evaluation of the benefits and costs of its National Decarbonization Plan finds that under most plausible assumptions about the future, the plan would achieve or nearly achieve its goals and do so at a net economic benefit.

  • A surfer makes his way to the beach during a King Tide event along the California coastline at Cardiff State Beach in California, November 16, 2020, photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    Commentary

    California Needs a More Flexible Approach to Sea Level Rise Planning

    Feb 18, 2021

    Rising seas create significant risk to the health, safety, and economic vitality of California's coast communities, and we must prepare. A contingency-planning approach would provide flexible action over time and would build capacity that California and the nation need to respond to the many other serious and growing climate-related risks.

Explore Global Climate Change

  • Solar panels and wind generators against a city view

    Commentary

    Investing in Infrastructure? Don't Forget the Electric Grid

    Leaving the future of America's electricity grid to chance should not be an option. To maximize the potential benefits of a multibillion-dollar smart grid investment, a closer examination of technology and policy is needed.

    Dec 7, 2016

  • Miami skyline at night

    Report

    Urban Responses to Climate Change

    More than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas. Thus, cities lie at the epicenter of America's response to climate change. Analysis can inform how cities choose strategies and allocate resources.

    Dec 7, 2016

  • Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Shale Insight energy conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 22, 2016

    Commentary

    States Could Step Up on Climate Change

    The new administration has expressed skepticism about climate change. But states may choose to pursue their own climate change initiatives.

    Nov 26, 2016

  • President and CEO Michael Rich speaking at RAND's Politics Aside event in Santa Monica, November 11, 2016

    Blog

    'Truth Decay' Makes Facts Subjective and Polarization More Extreme

    “When everyone has their own facts, then nobody really has any facts at all,” said President and CEO Michael Rich at RAND's Politics Aside event. Truth Decay pushes political polarization to even greater extremes and prevents policymakers from reaching consensus on solutions to the nation's biggest challenges.

    Nov 12, 2016

  • LED map of the continental United States

    Essay

    Election 2016: The Domestic Issues

    RAND offers a unique take on the big domestic issues facing America: research that is independent, reliable, and rigorously nonpartisan.

    Oct 3, 2016

  • Aerial view of the Coronado Bridge, which connects San Diego and Coronado, at dusk

    Commentary

    Infrastructure Design Must Change with Climate

    Until recently, infrastructure engineers could use data on past weather to predict future climate. But this is no longer an option. More and more, engineers must consider the effects of climate change. Failure to do so would threaten public safety.

    Aug 12, 2016

  • A power substation at sunset

    Report

    Characterizing National Exposures to Infrastructure from Natural Disasters: Data and Methods Documentation

    This report serves as the technical documentation and reference document for the data, methods, and analytic approach used in the analysis of national exposures to infrastructure from natural disasters.

    Jul 12, 2016

  • An aerial photo of a flood-affected area of northern Colorado along the Big Thompson River which has been declared a federal disaster area in September 2013

    Report

    Climate Change May Increase Future Exposure of U.S. Infrastructure to Natural Hazards

    Exposure to natural hazards such as flooding, drought, and wildfires is projected to be larger and more uncertain in the future due to the effects of sea level rise and changes in temperature and precipitation patterns.

    Jul 12, 2016

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Climate Change, Migration, and Adaptation in the MENA Region

    Climate change is a major source of concern in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This chapter is based in large part on new data collected in 2011 in Algeria, the Arab Republic of Egypt, Morocco, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the Republic of Yemen.

    Apr 18, 2016

  • Indonesian farmers transporting crops beside an irrigation canal

    Commentary

    Matching and Migration: Lessons from a Resettlement Program in Indonesia

    With careful planning, resettlement remains a feasible and politically attractive option for coping with environmentally-induced migration in many settings. The lessons from Indonesia's Transmigration program can help inform ongoing resettlement planning.

    Apr 5, 2016

  • Report

    Report

    Water Management, Partnerships, Rights, and Market Trends: An Overview for Army Installation Managers

    This report assesses water management, partnerships, rights, and market trends and opportunities, and how Army installations can potentially use them to improve programs and investments in water and wastewater systems.

    Apr 5, 2016

  • Dissertation

    Dissertation

    Directed International Technological Change and Climate Policy: New Methods for Identifying Robust Policies Under Conditions of Deep Uncertainty

    Explores new methods to the study of international technological change and climate policy providing useful insights that can be used for designing a robust architecture of international technological cooperation for climate change mitigation.

    Mar 11, 2016

  • Cars stranded in flood waters from Hurricane Irene in lower Manhattan, August 28, 2011

    Commentary

    Why Engineers Need to Be Thinking About Climate Change

    As sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more common, evacuation routes in coastal areas will become more important. Transportation engineers need to be more proactive as they try to anticipate damage to pavement, bridges, and culverts.

    Feb 22, 2016

  • High-tech analysis

    Journal Article

    Climate and Energy Analysis: Reinvigorating the Scenario Technique

    Scenarios are widely used for long-term climate and energy analysis, but scenario developers and users typically capture only a subset of future uncertainties. By adopting three focal points as part of this methodology, researchers can expand uncertainty consideration and gather user-specific insights.

    Feb 4, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington, January 12, 2016

    Blog

    State of the Union 2016: Insights on Obama's Last Address

    RAND research, analysis, and expertise provide context for many of the issues discussed in President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address, including the threat of ISIS, global climate change, and bringing peace to Syria.

    Jan 13, 2016

  • Participants are seen in silhouette as they look at a screen showing a world map with climate anomalies during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 8, 2015

    Commentary

    Paris Gets the (Decision) Science Right

    The framework for the Paris negotiations is in sync with what science tells us about how to make effective public policy decisions. This alone makes them historic and may provide a model for both local and global action on more than climate alone.

    Dec 18, 2015

  • Multimedia

    RAND Experts on the Paris Climate Change Accord

    RAND experts discuss the agreement adopted in Paris at the COP21 summit and discuss what comes next.

    Dec 17, 2015

  • Environmentalists hold a banner which reads in part, "For the Climate," near the Eiffel Tower during the World Climate Change Conference 2015

    Commentary

    COP21: Ambition and Momentum

    Negotiators in Paris achieved a historic breakthrough by adopting a fundamentally different, and likely more effective, institutional framework to address climate change. It builds on two concepts missing from past attempts to forge a global treaty: voluntary participation and adaptive policymaking.

    Dec 17, 2015

  • The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp passes the guided-missile destroyers USS Cole and USS James E. Williams on its way to the pier in New Orleans, Louisiana

    Commentary

    Climate Change Is a National Security Issue, but Not for the Reasons You Think

    All U.S. policy decisions can and should be guided by clear evidence. Climate change policy is no exception. The United States should focus on addressing the clearest vulnerabilities, such as securing coastal defense infrastructure.

    Dec 16, 2015

  • The bones of a bowhead whale, a food source and cultural icon of the native Inupiat peoples who have lived in Alaska for centuries

    Commentary

    It's Getting Harder and Harder to Live on Top of the World

    In September, a relatively new kind of storm, made possible due to larger swaths of ice-free Arctic Ocean, battered Barrow, Alaska, washing away chunks of coastline, threatening businesses, houses, and the freshwater supply. While mitigation efforts are necessary on a macro level, adaptation measures are needed now for such Arctic communities.

    Nov 30, 2015