Confronting the Climate Challenge: Science and Policy Working Together


The question today is no longer if climate change is happening, but how we can confront the social, economic and health challenges it presents. That’s where MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change comes in.

At MIT’s Joint Program on Global Change, we know that meeting our 21st century climate challenges requires cutting-edge scientific research. It also requires unprecedented policy action. We bring the two together to advance both frontiers by creating an environment where scientists and economists can work side-by-side. Our researchers explore the interplay between our global environment, economy, and human activities, and the potential impact of policies intended to stabilize these relationships.

From exploring the effects of air pollution to investigating clean energy technologies, our sophisticated number crunching and analyses are helping to guide Congress today as they work toward developing the standards of tomorrow. But our research goes beyond the halls of the U.S. Capitol. Our breakthrough measurements, modeling and predictions are found guiding decision-makers in corporate boardrooms and government chambers throughout the world. We help leaders determine how they can slow climate change while improving their local economy. Our research clearly demonstrates that just as there are costs to cutting greenhouse gases emissions, there are significant economic gains from protecting our air, land and water.

At the heart of much of our work lies MIT’s Integrated Global System Model. Unlike most models that focus on the interplay between climate change and either our ecosystem or our economy, we uniquely combine all of this work with the help of MIT’s science, engineering, economics and energy experts. By constantly refining and re-running this integrated model, we can estimate the likelihood of different changes and demonstrate the potential costs and benefits of specific policies – essential knowledge for the international dialogue toward a global response to climate change.

Along with having the technical knowledge to inform decisions, we have the political and communications savvy needed to organize a genuinely global solution to our climate challenges. We communicate directly with national and international opinion leaders and policymakers through Congressional briefings and testimony, workshops and conferences, and research and publications. We also host a semi-annual MIT Global Change Forum, which brings together experts and decision-makers from industry, government, academia, research institutes and NGOs, to discuss the wide variety of issues related to global change.