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Climate Adaptation and Resiliency

Climate adaptation is an urgent policy priority. As local, state, and national governments confront the reality of a rapidly changing climate, they are faced with the challenge of designing policy that balances many competing economic objectives.

The UCLA Climate Adaptation and Community Resiliency Initiative seeks to advance the understanding of how climate change could affect vulnerable populations – including low-income households and workers in climate-exposed industries – and inform actions to increase community-driven resiliency. The initiative focuses on providing rigorous academic research that can deliver data-driven insights in a rapidly evolving policy landscape. Current research includes assessments of heat-related risks posed to workers, students, and expecting mothers and their babies. Researchers are also assessing potential market failures in adaptation investment and the distribution of climate damages. The research is linked by themes of:

  1. Labor and Occupational Safety
  2. Heat and Human Capital
  3. Distributional Equity

Example studies within these themes are summarized below.

Labor and Occupational Safety 

Will We Adapt? Temperature, Labor and Adaptation to Climate Change (2018 working paper as part of broader ongoing study)

LCI scholar Jisung Park and Patrick Behrer are exploring heat-related labor impacts to understand the role of adaptation in responding to climate change. This research is partially funded by a grant to LCI from the Strategic Growth Council as part of the new Climate Change Research Grant Program.

Health and Human Capital 

Heat and Learning (2018 NBER working paper)

Jisung Park and collaborators provide the first evidence that cumulative heat exposure inhibits cognitive skill development and that school air conditioning can mitigate this effect.  

Hot Temperature and High Stakes Cognitive Assessments (2018 working paper)

Jisung Park provides the first estimates of the impact of hot temperatures on high-stakes exam performance and subsequent educational attainments. Hot days reduce performance by up to 15% and lead to persistent impacts on high school graduate status, despite what appears to be compensatory responses by teachers. 

Media coverage: The New York TimesBBC NewsThe 74 Million, Joongang Ilbo (Korean Daily) 

media, including CNNReutersCityLab, and more.

Distributional Equity 

Measuring Climate Change Heat Impacts on Vulnerable Communities to Design and Target Protective Policies (current project)

A nearly $1.5 million grant from the Strategic Growth Council involves multiple studies of heat-related climate impacts, the factors that make populations and communities vulnerable, and opportunities to build resilience. Climate change could exacerbate inequalities and this project will result in tools to help government agencies target responses and empower communities.