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The Climate Impact Lab

The Climate Impact Lab combines climate science, econometrics, and big data analytics to advance understanding of the real-world social impacts and economic costs of climate change.


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Climate change is already impacting our everyday lives. Record-breaking temperatures, melting ice on land and sea, more frequent coastal flooding, prolonged droughts, and damaging storms are just some of the intensifying risks we’re already facing. And these changes are likely to accelerate over the next few decades, with implications for the health and welfare of every community around the world and the performance of every sector of the economy.

To confront these challenges, policymakers, business leaders, investors, and other decision-makers need localized and rigorous information about the nature and costs of the risks they face, and how these risks might evolve going forward. The Climate Impact Lab is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to measure and communicate the impacts of climate change on people to empower effective decision-making. The organization’s founders at the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute, the University of California, Berkeley, Rhodium Group, and Rutgers University, envisioned a world where the management of climate change is evidence-based, effective, and fair when they established the Climate Impact Lab collaborative research organization in 2016. Today, the Climate Impact Lab is a unique collaboration of more than 25 climate scientists, economists, computational experts, researchers, analysts, and students from some of the nation’s leading research institutions dedicated to that purpose.

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Local climate impacts

To project the future social impacts and economic costs of climate change, the Climate Impact Lab looks first to historical, real-world experience. The Lab’s researchers comb through terabytes of historical climate, social, and economic data and use big data analytical tools to find empirical evidence of how a changing climate has impacted humanity—from the ways in which extended droughts have affected agricultural productivity in California, to the ways in which heat waves have impacted mortality in India and labor productivity in China. The Lab team then combines this rich data with granular projections of temperature, precipitation, humidity, and sea-level changes to yield hyper-local and evidence-based insights into the future impacts of climate change on communities and economic sectors around the world.

Using the most comprehensive climate and economic data sets ever compiled, the Lab is estimating the relationship between a changing climate and human well-being across eight categories: human health, labor productivity, energy demand, agriculture, manufacturing, damage to coastal infrastructure, increased social conflict and crime, and altered migration patterns.

The Human Climate Horizons platform, a collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Climate Impact Lab, maps in detail the hyperlocal climate impacts for every country around the world. The platform illustrates how climate change is projected to influence temperature and its impacts on mortality, energy use, the global workforce, sea-level rise, and coastal flooding impacts. These projections are available under multiple scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions for 24,000 regions worldwide, shedding light on the implications for our collective future, revealing vast inequalities within and between countries, and pinpointing areas where the risks of unmitigated climate change are most severe.

Explore the Human Climate Horizons platform

A collaboration with UNDP, the HCH platform provides hyperlocal data on the human development impacts of climate change for 24,000 regions worldwide

The social cost of carbon

In addition to providing localized climate risk information, the Lab is monetizing and aggregating these impacts to produce the world’s first empirically derived estimate of the social cost of carbon (SCC)—the cost to society and the economy from each ton of carbon dioxide emitted. The SCC is an essential tool for incorporating climate impacts into cost-benefit analyses for policymaking, corporate planning, and investment decision-making in the US and around the world.

The Climate Impact Lab is working in direct partnership with key US states and the federal government to improve the estimates and use of the SCC in policymaking. The models used to develop current SCC estimates omit various impacts because of a lack of precise information on the nature of damages, and because the science incorporated into these models naturally lags behind the most recent research. The Climate Impact Lab is working to incorporate the latest available science and economics, guided by recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This updated SCC estimate will be designed to feed directly into energy and climate policies around the world.

Learn more about our SCC modeling

Climate Impact Map

The Climate Impact Map is an interactive map that provides detailed historical climate data and projected climate change impacts for every state in the US, and every country in the world.

This data powers a New York Times featured interactive which shows how climate change is making extremely hot days over 90° Fahrenheit more frequent around the globe. It presents users with a localized perspective on how have temperatures in their hometowns changed since their birth, and how they are projected to evolve over the course of a lifetime.

Explore the Climate Impact Map


Explore the Climate Impacts Map and read more about the Climate Impact Lab's research