At Resources for the Future, we work to improve environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement. We do this by transforming the way decisionmakers and the public think about problems; by quantifying issues leaders care about; and by bringing stakeholders together to learn from one another and find common ground. On this page you’ll find a selection of these activities during 2020 and discover how RFF’s “ideas for impact” are helping the world tackle climate change, confront global risks, and build resilience to economic and environmental uncertainty.
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1. Shining a Light on Shifting Climate Sentiments
Has the COVID-19 pandemic diminished or heightened public concern about climate change? Is public opinion on climate issues evolving over time? In 2020, researchers at RFF and Stanford University conducted the Climate Insights 2020 survey. The study uncovered that one-quarter of the American public now regards climate change as “extremely personally important,” twice the level recorded just five years ago.
2. Designing Smart Emissions Reduction Strategies
Achieving ambitious net-zero emissions goals will require a concerted effort among decisionmakers, stakeholders, and the public. Through RFF’s ongoing Advanced Energy Technologies Series, we are exploring an array of new technologies, ranging from direct air capture to advanced nuclear power, through a lively public event series and accompanying research publications.
3. Uncovering the Local Economic Benefits of National Monuments
What do the data show about the impact of national monuments on local economies? In a groundbreaking research study published in the journal Science Advances, RFF scholars examined 14 national monuments established in eight Mountain West states since 1990. Using a unique dataset and state-of-the-art statistical methods, the authors found that designating lands as national monuments does not harm local economies.
4. Confronting Climate Risks and Building Resilience
RFF is equipping decisionmakers with the policy tools they need to assess climate impacts on communities, species, and lands, as well as to build resilience. In 2020 we analyzed the impacts of federal-level climate policies on Florida’s communities, explored the cost-effectiveness of using satellite imagery to identify post-wildfire safety threats, and continued to steward a global team working on the social cost of carbon.
5. Examining Energy Trajectories Amid Historic Declines
During one of the most uncertain periods in the history of energy markets, RFF’s Global Energy Outlook 2020 report explored the implications of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, while also offering a unique apples-to-apples comparison of long-term energy projections from leading global institutions.
6. Offering Insights and Expertise for Capitol Hill Decisionmakers
Decisionmakers on Capitol Hill need rigorous, impartial research expertise to assess climate policy proposals. RFF has this know-how, and we’re sharing it in new, effective ways. In 2020, we hosted a policy bootcamp for a bipartisan group of congressional staffers, quantified the effects of a federal clean energy standard proposal, and analyzed the economic and emissions impacts of ten carbon pricing bills.
7. Advancing Fairness for Workers and Communities in Transition
As economies transition away from fossil fuels in an effort to mitigate climate change, governments around the world are wrestling with how to support the communities that depend on fossil fuels for their economic livelihoods. In 2020, RFF partnered with Environmental Defense Fund to assess the policies best suited for a future federal "just transition" policy package.
8. A Novel Idea to Put Energy Workers Back to Work
In the face of the economic repercussions of COVID-19, more than 100,000 oil and gas workers lost their jobs in 2020. Plugging abandoned oil and gas wells could provide a novel solution to this problem by creating new jobs for these workers while also curbing methane emissions—an idea we investigated with researchers at Columbia University.
9. Making Research Accessible
RFF is helping to make research more accessible in a variety of ways. In 2020, we published more than 20 new explainer articles, while our suite of interactive data tools allows users to design their own policies or explore rich data sets. And RFF’s Resources magazine and accompanying Resources Radio podcast offer our audiences insightful analysis and commentary on key environmental and energy topics.
10. Connecting Experts and Decisionmakers through Flagship Events
Since our founding, RFF has consistently brought leading decisionmakers and stakeholders together to learn from one another, develop a shared understanding of issues, and find common ground. In pursuit of these goals, RFF organized a variety of events in 2020, drawing more than 10,000 attendees to 23 public convenings throughout the year.
This research isn’t possible without your support. Find out more about working together to build “ideas for impact” in the years ahead.