RAND Center for Climate and Energy Futures

Reimagining the next era of climate policy research

Mother and child in front of wind turbines and a setting sun, photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

Climate is among the top disruptive forces of the 21st century. Greenhouse gas emissions must be halved as soon as 2030 and reach net zero by mid-century to avoid the most dire consequences of climate change. Yet nearly a decade after the 2015 Paris Agreement, a significant gap exists between our progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and what is needed to avoid catastrophic outcomes.

Through a collaboration between RAND’s Global and Emerging Risks and Social and Economic Well-Being divisions, RAND is reimagining how we pursue the next era of climate policy research.

The RAND Center for Climate and Energy Futures studies emerging risks associated with the changing climate, society’s responses to those risks, and the processes and conditions needed for policy implementation.

By working across disciplines and geographies large and small, the center endeavors to address persistent gaps in climate and energy research and analysis that has slowed our ability to respond rapidly, effectively, and equitably to the climate challenge.

Focus Areas

Beginning in 2024, the RAND Center for Climate and Energy Futures is pursuing research on the following priorities. The initial, highlighted projects are funded through income from RAND operations, with the goal of expanding this work through other funders.

Policy Implementation for Climate Action

What is required to transform the global energy, industrial, and infrastructure systems in order to address the climate crisis and reverse historical inequities?

Understanding Catastrophic Climate Risk

What do global catastrophic and existential risks mean in the context of climate change and what are our risk management and mitigation options?

The Geopolitics of Energy Transitions

How can we better understand the geopolitics of the energy landscape in order to inform policy solutions or diplomatic interventions?

Read more about the CCEF focus areas

Current Research

The Potential Impact of Seabed Mining on Critical Minerals Supply Chains

Energy transition is rapidly increasing demand for critical minerals for batteries and other technologies. The potential emergence of seabed mining presents an important opportunity to introduce new supplies and suppliers of critical minerals supply chains, which are currently dominated by China.

This project will characterize the potential supply chain disruption presented by seabed mining and assess how current critical minerals-related policies and global partnerships may be augmented to capitalize on the opportunity for seabed mining to diversify critical minerals supply chains.

Principal Investigator

Understanding Climate Transition Tipping Points

Social and economic tipping points that that are triggered by the implementation of climate policies will likely have more immediate consequences than those of physical climate risk and thus will be harder to adapt to.

This research will explore the conditions that can lead to transition risk tipping points, what transition pathways yield positive tipping points that minimize devalued assets, and how the thresholds for these events change depend on the scale of analysis and the region of interest.

Principal Investigator

Out of The Frying Pan: Identifying Resilient, Sustainable Cooling Strategies for Los Angeles

Given the increased prevalence and severity of extreme heat, many policymakers are developing regulations on maximum indoor temperatures to protect vulnerable populations.

This project will assess the energy demand and climate impacts from different cooling strategies that could be adopted from LA County's proposed ordinance for rental housings. From this analysis, we will identify climate-resilient and robust policies that align with long-term climate goals.

Principal Investigator

Managing Catastrophic Water Supply Risks in Major Global Cities

Many of the world’s largest cities already experience water stress, and climate change means a growing number of people face the real risk that their city will no longer be able to supply water to all residents.

This project will develop a decision support framework based on lessons learned from the brink: cases where, due to varied combinations of climatic change, population growth, overextraction, or pollution, cities have confronted near-catastrophic risks to their water supplies. Through case studies, we seek to expand the knowledge base of available option sets, key constraints and considerations, best practices for justice and equity, and relevant inflection points for action.

Principal Investigator

Contact Us

Email us a climate@rand.org or reach out to CCEF staff.