Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind today. Its global scope and multigenerational scale make it uniquely daunting. The United States is one of the world’s largest consumer of hydrocarbons and one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and, thus, must play a key role in any global effort to reduce GHGs. American scientists have been at the forefront of the emerging scientific consensus on the human role in climate change, and U.S. policymakers, politicians, academics, and the media have been struggling in recent years to fashion a concrete response.

While advances in climate science continue to improve our understanding of how climate change is likely to impact our world, addressing climate change is a complex public policy issue because the challenges are global and will span several generations. It will require global cooperation on a scale never before achieved in human history. The complexity of dealing with the challenges presented by climate change, through both mitigation and adaptation, means that the policy responses must be equally diverse and multidimensional, including the full spectrum from international agreements and programs to local efforts.

The Science and Technology Policy Program at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy along with the Baker Institute Energy Forum are co-sponsoring an initiative focused on addressing the relationship between climate change, politics and economics. The mission of the program is to foster a wide range of ideas, opinions and prescriptions for public policy by bringing together not only scholars and scientists from the international scientific community, but also leaders and experts from academia, the energy industry, government, the media, and non-governmental organizations. Areas of focus will be directed toward issues as the economics of climate change, the costs and benefits of mitigation strategies, the role of emerging technologies, the politics of international, national and subnational response strategies, educating the public about the impacts of climate change, and ultimately engaging in significant advances toward the crafting of public policy addressing the current global climate change.