Our rapidly changing climate is affecting nearly every aspect of daily life, from direct impacts on public health and ecosystems, to indirect effects on our economy, communities, and wellbeing. These impacts are disproportionately borne by disadvantaged populations, exacerbating existing systemic inequality and injustice. There is no doubt that the serious implications of climate change require near-term coordinated action at all levels of government.
Abt Associates excels at developing multi-disciplinary solutions to analyze, address, and plan for climate change. Our team of climate change experts includes health specialists, economists, scientists, policy analysts, and digital communications experts who work together to address some of the world’s most pressing climate-related challenges.
We are leaders in developing rigorous, novel approaches to:
- Modeling climate change impacts
- Integrating sound science and economic principles to develop robust mitigation and adaptation solutions
- Deploying innovative techniques to help governments implement climate change policies and programs.
Abt’s expertise spans a wide range of technical disciplines, including managing greenhouse gases to mitigate climate change, modeling climate change impacts on key sectors, and improving resilience.
Greenhouse Gas Management
- Greenhouse gas inventories and reporting. We build robust, transparent, and data-driven greenhouse gas inventories using the best available methods. We help our clients collect and analyze emissions data to better understand industry and economy-wide emissions sources and trends.
- Climate change mitigation support. We help clients develop comprehensive climate action plans that account for the costs and multiple benefits of climate change mitigation strategies.
- Health and equity cobenefits. We develop and apply models to understand how climate change affects human health, and how climate solutions can simultaneously address public health and equity objectives at the national, state, and local level.
- Emissions measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV). We bring expertise in designing and deploying tools and trainings to support accurate and transparent greenhouse gas emissions accounting.
- Clean energy and decarbonization. We offer expertise in energy efficiency and renewable energy policy and program design at the local, state, and federal level. We are skilled builders of tools and resources that governments use to analyze clean energy strategies as part of broader decarbonization plans.
- Short-lived climate pollutants. We evaluate and reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants—methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons—that have both significant impacts on climate change and impair local air quality.
Impacts and Resilience
- Climate change impacts and vulnerability assessments. We develop robust, scientific models to analyze and project the impacts of climate change and are known for our ability to develop new analytical methods that withstand scientific and public scrutiny.
- Resilience and adaptation planning. We assist clients in accounting for climate change in broader economy- and sector-specific resilience planning. We specialize in analyzing how climate indicators and projections should inform adaptation decision-making.
- Responding to extreme events. We support clients in evaluating the impacts of and responses to extreme events and managing climate-related disasters.
We draw upon a wide range of capabilities to execute work across these technical disciplines.
- Environmental justice services. We apply multi-disciplinary approaches to analyzing disproportionate impacts of climate change. This information serves as a foundation to ensure fair treatment and the development, implementation, and enforcement of meaningful climate policies and programs.
- Regulatory and analytical support. We support clients throughout the entire regulatory development cycle, ranging from option selection through comment support and final publication. Our analytical team has decades of experience modeling the economic and environmental benefits of policies, programs, and projects. We have supported several high-profile regulations related to GHG emissions and management.
- Communications and outreach. Our climate communications team develops innovative resources to communicate about climate change to diverse audiences, including using advanced data visualization techniques. Abt Associates programmers continue to develop innovative climate change information and analytical tools, including online digital resources and toolkits, to help federal, state, and local clients.
- Technical assistance. We provide technical assistance, capacity building, and training support to help project operators, governments, and other stakeholders apply best practices to address climate change. We excel in building clean energy and climate mitigation capacity in developing countries.
- Supporting private sector engagement. Government-run voluntary programs can play an essential role in motivating the private sector, individuals, and other stakeholders to take action to address climate change. We have been supporting climate-focused federal voluntary partnership programs for more than a decade.
Advancing Clean Energy Solutions at the State and Local Level
Client: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Abt Associates supports EPA’s State and Local Energy and Environment Program, which advances clean energy policies, programs, and projects across the United States. We develop tools, guides, and technical resources to help state, local, and tribal governments analyze the multiple benefits of clean energy, evaluate equity and environmental justice considerations, and plan for future decarbonization strategies. One tool Abt has developed for this program is the CO-Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) Health Impacts Screening and Mapping Tool. Abt also recently updated the Local Action Framework: A Guide to Help Communities Achieve Energy and Environmental Goals, and supports EPA’s Heat Island Reduction Program.
Building Capacity to Reduce Global Methane Emissions
Since 2013, Abt has assisted EPA in mitigating methane emissions under the auspices of the Global Methane Initiative and Climate and Clean Air Coalition. Abt provides technical assistance to stakeholders in developing countries to advance methane mitigation strategies in the solid waste and agriculture sectors. We conduct technical trainings, prepare market and technology needs assessments and develop tools to support project screening and decision making. For example, the Solid Waste Emissions Estimation Tool (SWEET), a tool that models emissions of methane, black carbon, and other pollutants from the waste sector, has been used in more than 40 cities across the globe.
Addressing Local Concerns in Adaptation Planning
Client: Pueblo de San Ildefonso
The Pueblo de San Ildefonso in Santa Fe County, New Mexico struggles with the effects of drought, wildfire, and floods that are increasingly common in the Southwestern United States. Abt has been working with the pueblo to develop a climate action plan that reflects the pueblo’s vision for its community. Abt led a series of planning workshops focused on local priorities, cultural practices, and daily lives. Based on these discussions Abt analyzed vulnerabilities to climate change and identified priority adaptation measures.
Abt is also analyzing the compounding effects on human health of climate change and local environmental contamination from nearby Los Alamos National Laboratory. The compounding effects of climate change mixed with environmental contaminants on health is relatively uncharted territory.
Support for the EPA Climate Change Impacts and Risk Analysis Program
Client: US Environmental Protection Agency
For over a decade, Abt has supported the EPA by developing and implementing novel approaches for analyzing the impacts of climate change on a wide range of sectors in the United States. Our work has produced over a dozen peer-reviewed publications on the costs and benefits of climate mitigation and adaptation, and has provided key research inputs for EPA’s Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action and the Fourth National Climate Assessment.
Our innovative research includes studies on climate impacts to transportation infrastructure, monetary damages from inland flooding, adaptation to coastal flood risk, wildfire frequency and severity, human mortality associated with extreme heat, vector-borne disease, harmful algal blooms, freshwater recreational fishing and winter recreation. For each of these sectors, Abt worked closely with EPA to develop novel analytical approaches for national-scale analyses of physical and economic impacts. For example, we are developing new methods for using downscaled precipitation and hydrology to project future riverine flood losses and adaptation benefits.
Climate Change Mitigation Planning for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Client: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Abt conducted a study of GHG mitigation strategies designed to meet the Commonwealth’s GHG reduction targets under the Global Warming Solutions Act. The study involved analyzing potential GHG mitigation strategies for:
- Reductions in vehicle miles traveled through “smart growth” and improved land use planning
- Improved terrestrial carbon sequestration through improved land use practices
- Greater deployment of electric vehicles
- Improved building codes and appliance standards, and
- Tree-planting and retention strategies.
Results from these analyses were incorporated into scenario modeling in the LEAP software tool to prioritize specific mitigation options to meet mandated GHG reduction targets in Massachusetts for 2020 and 2050. Abt also assisted Massachusetts in developing an online database to track and report progress toward these goals.
Abt provides wide-ranging support for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, the Agency’s primary source of greenhouse gas emissions data. Abt supports the program’s data analytics and communication efforts, including calculating and developing data visualization graphics of emissions by sector, subsector, and trends over time for the annual GHGRP Data Highlights. Over the past several years, Abt has enhanced the website by making content interactive and automating the annual data update process using visualization tools and programming techniques.
Analyzing the Public Health Benefits of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
Client: Multiple Clients
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first regional market-based carbon dioxide trading program in the United States. On behalf of several foundations, Abt conducted a retrospective analysis of the public health benefits of the RGGI program using the EPA’s CO-benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) screening tool, which Abt developed. The analysis showed that from 2009-2014, RGGI significantly reduced air pollution from fossil fuel power plants; the value of the reduced health costs and other cobenefits was estimated to be $5.7 billion over that 5-year period.
A subsequent analysis for Columbia University in 2020 found that RGGI provided up to $350 million in benefits to children specifically, including from avoiding asthma cases, preterm births, autism spectrum disorder, and low birth weight.
Developing a Toolkit to Support Community Resilience
Client: Department of Housing and Urban Development
Abt designed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Resilience Toolkit to help communities. States and local governments receiving community planning and development program funds from HUD complete a consolidated plan in which they state their plans to enhance their resilience to climate-related natural hazard risks. The toolkit is organized around a simplified risk assessment process that communities can use to identify both potential vulnerabilities from natural hazards and the actions they can take to reduce their vulnerabilities, helping them decide where and how to invest their HUD funding.
Commercial refrigeration systems in the United States use a range of synthetic refrigerants that deplete the ozone layer and contribute to climate change. Some of these refrigerants have effects on climate change that are several thousand times stronger than carbon dioxide. Abt assists EPA’s GreenChill program in engaging with food retailers to reduce refrigerant charge sizes, eliminate leaks, and adopt best practices in refrigerant management. Since 2010, Abt has led the program’s annual data reporting effort, including analyzing the data and generating customized benchmark reports. Abt also leads a long-running webinar series on best practices for supermarket refrigeration that has reached thousands of participants over the past decade.