American Association for the Advancement of Science

Fast-Tracking Sound Climate Solutions Across the United States

Lead Organization

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Washington, D.C., United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Climate change has direct and dangerous consequences for communities, economies, and ecosystems, creating a crisis that disproportionately affects people from historically marginalized groups. Curbing the most severe impacts of climate change will require rapid, far-reaching changes. In order to be effective, these solutions must be based on science. To achieve the necessary interventions and avoid potentially devastating consequences, we must activate the science community to speak up in new ways to address its impacts at the local, state, national, and global level. As one of the top greenhouse-gas-emitting countries in the world, it is incumbent upon the United States to lead the way. This work to hasten the integration of science into policy discussions will result in timely, practical, lasting solutions that could change the course of the climate crisis and improve the health and wellbeing of people in the U.S. and around the world for generations to come.

Problem Statement

Climate change is now a lived experience for people around the world, and the risks continue to grow, especially among historically marginalized groups. As politics eclipse evidence in national dialogue—particularly in the U.S.—work to address this crisis is undermined by tremendous challenges, including well-funded efforts to sow doubt, denial, skepticism, and indifference; decreased federal funding for research, mitigation, and adaptation; the unraveling of regulatory measures; and the abandonment of endeavors such as the Paris Agreement and the U.S. Clean Power Plan. The dialogue about climate change has become so polarized that even the underlying science is politically charged. A distrust of experts pervades American society and Americans have become resistant to the “doom and gloom” messages that often accompany climate predictions. Science is one of the few rays of hope in the face of the climate crisis. It provides us with an understanding of the causes and effects of climate change and is the foundation for mitigation and adaptation strategies. Strategic application of science and technology is fundamental to finding effective, economically viable solutions. However, scientists and engineers often do not have a seat at the table where decisions are made. By transforming the way that they are engaged in the climate dialogue at the federal, state, and local levels and equipping many more scientists to collaborate with decisionmakers to respond to climate change, we can achieve timely, practical, lasting solutions that could change the course of the climate crisis in the U.S. and around the world.

Solution Overview

AAAS will build on its track record in facilitating the input of science to better public policy by launching a comprehensive, nation-wide effort to bolster, accelerate, and coordinate climate solutions simultaneously at the local, state, and national levels. While governments and business entities have set renewable energy goals, the practical pathways are riddled with scientific, technical, economic, and human health/behavior questions. Without clear, evidence-based roadmaps, laudable but aspirational goals face tremendous uncertainty. But elected officials and business leaders may struggle to access to the scientific/technical expertise they require. The world’s largest general science society, AAAS is in a unique position to catalyze change across the country by empowering scientists everywhere to engage with decisionmakers to address implementation challenges. Over five years, we will focus this expertise at the federal, state, and local levels by 1) establishing climate science hubs in 60 strategically selected locations across the country to shape local/state policy engagement, 2) empowering scientists and engineers to serve as Climate Science Ambassadors and convene place-based climate/energy solutions dialogues with diverse stakeholders, and 3) expanding our Congressional Fellowships program with a climate focus. These efforts will affect specific populations/geographic areas at the outset, growing to blanket the entire U.S. as the resulting network becomes larger and the hubs’ boundaries begin to overlap. National, state, and local leaders and the constituents they serve will be the beneficiaries of our work, which we hope will set an example for the rest of the world as it expedites progress toward science-based climate solutions.

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Project Funders

  • Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment

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