Center for Progressive Reform

Adapting to Climate Change

How Will We Adjust to the Realities of Climate Change?

Climate change has already caused a variety of real-world impacts. Over time, with proper policy responses, some of these can be reversed, and some can be mitigated. But one important area for research and policymaking focuses on how we adapt to the various effects of climate change, even while working to undo or mitigate the causes and larger effects of climate change itself. 

At the leading edge of the storm are a number of communities, mostly Native American or Alaska Native, forced to relocate because of the very present impacts of climate change. In May 2017, CPR Member Scholars Maxine Burkett and Robert Verchick, and CPR Policy Analyst David Flores published a report examining the many tools such communities will need to manage their search for and relocation to "higher ground." In particular, the report focuses on the efforts of residents of Newtok, Alaska, and Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana. Read Reaching Higher Ground: Avenues to Secure and Manage New Land for Communities Displaced by Climate Change.

CPR Scholars and staff have also written about adaptation in specific regions of the United States. In 2011, their efforts focused on the Puget Sound area of the Pacific Northwest. In 2016, CPR President Robert Verchick co-authored a paper on adaptation in his native Gulf Coast region, and CPR co-sponsored an accompanying conference. The focus of the Gulf Coast conference was on community-level strategies and community participation.

In March 2012, CPR cosponsored a conference at the University of North Carolina at which an interdisciplinary group of academics, non-profit and business representatives, and government officials gathered to discuss how the government could facilitate adaptation efforts in the private sector.  The gathering was intended as the beginning of a longer and long-term discussion about how the government can encourage, facilitate, and even demand adaptive actions from the different parts of the private sector and how the government can shape the private sector response in a positive manner. CPR Member Scholar Victor Flatt and Policy Analyst Yee Huang prepared a summary of the ideas discussed, published in July 2012. Read an introductory blog post on the paper by Huang. 

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