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Climate Change: Meeting the Challenge of Our Time

November 17, 2015
Joshua Lipton
Joshua Lipton, PhD
Division Vice President, Environment & Natural Resources   Stephen Pelliccia
Stephen Pelliccia
Division Vice President, International Economic Growth Back when Abt Associates started analyzing and measuring environmental shifts, climate change wasn’t even a well-known term. Today, it’s the defining challenge of our time, threatening communities, infrastructure, systems and institutions worldwide—and demanding a global response.

The road to next month’s climate change conference in Paris, COP21, has been a rocky one. Past efforts to reach consensus on addressing climate change—in Kyoto and Copenhagen—fell short of expectations.  On the table at COP21 is a new universal climate agreement with a clear goal: keeping global warming below 2°C (3.6 F) to avoid the most catastrophic climatic events. But aligning the world’s decision-makers means answering tough questions about changes to infrastructure, energy, ecosystems and policy to promote low-carbon growth. And of course, how we pay for it all.

We discussed some of these questions this week at Abt's first climate change-focused Bold Thinkers Series event  in Washington, D.C., which explored how to build low-carbon, climate-resilient cities and the evolving global landscape for climate change finance. We’ll continue the conversation through COP21 online at #PlanetWorth.

To fully harness Abt’s far-reaching expertise, we have established a climate change practice, which offers our U.S. and international clients—and the growing climate change community—a full suite of services and approaches to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  This interdisciplinary practice brings together over 40 U.S. and international climate change experts in energy and environmental policy, environmental sciences and natural resource management, economic analysis, engineering assessments, agriculture, transportation, finance, and public health.

Our climate change practice builds on decades of contributions to this evolving field. Abt has helped lay the groundwork for low emission, climate-resilient communities by analyzing, designing, securing financing for, and implementing evidence-based interventions—using innovative tools and proven best practices.

Our collaborations with public and private sector partners in more than 36 countries have contributed to measurable results, including an updated Clean Energy and Climate Plan in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a Readiness Assessment and Model for Green Investments in Indonesia, a Vulnerability Assessment and Resiliency Action Plan for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Mexico’s General Law on Climate Change. Our background analyses informed proposed climate change commitments, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs, submitted by the Philippines and Azerbaijan in preparation for COP21.  

To make sure we walk the talk, and align Abt with the recommendations we make to our clients, our President and CEO Kathleen Flanagan this week announced our corporate commitment to decarbonization: We’ll reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050—starting with a near-term goal to reduce GHG emissions by at least 25 percent by 2021. Steps taken so far include purchasing renewable energy, promoting telecommuting, as well as publicly reporting facilities’ use, business air travel, and employee commuting. We’re also reducing material consumption, minimizing waste and conserving energy—all coordinated by Abt’s Global Sustainability Program.

Addressing climate change directly serves Abt’s mission to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of people worldwide. We’re proud to be a part of it.