By Sierra Woodruff, Postdoctoral Researcher, ND-GAIN

A ton of carbon emitted in California, has the same affect on climate as a ton emitted in West Virginia or China. Emissions from all sources and all countries determine concentrations of green house gases in the atmosphere and subsequent climate change. Mitigation efforts to curb green house gas emissions likewise benefit everyone. Consequently, climate mitigation is inherently a public goods problem.

Countries and individuals have little incentive to reduce emissions since they alone will bare the cost but everyone will benefit. International agreements and collective action are intended to distribute costs, discourage free riding and, in doing so, secure greater benefits. As such collective action is critical for climate mitigation.

Climate change adaptation is inherently different since individuals accrue benefits from their actions. If a homeowner living on the coast decides to elevate their home, they will benefit. Consequently, much of adaptation will be very local and taken by private parties.

By Sierra Woodruff, Postdoctoral Researcher, ND-GAIN

Originally published on Public Administration Review


The impacts of climate change – more frequent flooding, extreme heat waves, longer droughts, shifting disease vectors – have drastic consequences for multiple governmental sectors and departments. Yet, climate change has predominately been framed as an environmental issue and early adaptation efforts were led by environmental departments. Recent research examining the quality of climate change adaptation plans at the national, regional, and local scales indicate that who is involved in preparing the plan has a critical influence on the level of public participation, coordination, and breadth of strategies.

By Martina Grecequet, Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota; Active Collaborator, ND-GAIN

Despite the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, climate change is still one of the greatest challenges we face around the world.

Therefore, it’s important we don’t overlook both the environmental and social consequences associated with our changing climate. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprints by means of improved efficiency in the energy, transportation and agriculture industries, adapting to current climate stresses is of equal importance.

ND-GAIN’s Urban Adaptation Assessment looks to pave the way for climate action

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) is excited to share updates regarding our ongoing urban work! While increasing extreme weather events are frightening and lives and livelihoods are at stake, we’re making progress on a city-based analysis that will prompt leaders and citizens to discuss such issues and take action. After a winter of team discussions and revamping our methodology, data collection for our Urban Adaptation Assessment (UAA) is underway.

Funded by the Kresge Foundation, the 24-month project is assessing the vulnerability to climate hazards and readiness to adapt of every U.S. city with a population over 100,000 – more than 270 in all. We’ve spent our first six months taking lessons learned from our pilot project and jumping right into to the scale-out of the UAA, which will conclude in September 2018.

Post by Jessica Hellmann, Director, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota & Active Collaborator, ND-GAIN

In the US, science and sustainability has had a rough year. We've seen alt-facts, skinny budgets, climate denying administrators, and now withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. As I said on Twitter yesterday and today, the most mind-boggling part of yesterday's announcement is the absence of true upsides, regardless of one's political persuasion. We live in a time of political theatre with humanity and truth in the balance.

So what are we supposed to do?

It might be cliche to say "keep soldiering on," but I do think that's what we need to do.

I was recently traveling with UMN President Eric Kaler who, in remarks to leadership at the University of Iceland, spoke of fear and mistrust of truth and expertise in the US. He talked about climate change and other grand challenges as a major duty and responsibility of our time, challenges that require new knowledge and talented leaders. And he talked about international collaboration as a key way to move the globe--not just our country--forward.