Research Topic

Population, Environmental Risks, and the Climate Crisis (PERCC)

Photo Credit: Sajeda Amin

The impacts of climate change and environmental risks pose an unprecedented threat to the global health and development gains made to date.

People are inextricably linked to the causes and consequences of climate change and environmental risks.  Communities that contribute the least to creating climate change, meaning they produce the lowest CO2 emissions, are disproportionately bearing the burden of the adverse effects of climate change—such as food shortages due to drought or forced migration after a natural disaster. More research is necessary to understand the complex interactions and dynamics between people and their environment, which will inform urgently needed climate-resilient development programs and policies that are rooted in “climate justice” principles.

In 2016, the Population Council began to develop evidence on how to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations to adapt to environmental risks and the effects of extreme climate change. In 2018, the Population Council expanded this work with the launch of the Population, Environmental Risks, and the Climate Crisis (PERCC) research initiative—which deepens the Council’s mission with a new institutional commitment to improving understanding of the intersection of population and climate sciences.

The PERCC initiative generates rigorous research to better understand how climate and the environment impact people, and how people, in turn, impact the climate and their environment. Evidence generated under PERCC is designed to inform both local and global policies and programs.

  • PERCC aims to understand who is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and how this vulnerability (e.g. geographic location, gender, age, socioeconomic status) relates to their exposure to environmental risks and opportunities to build resilience. We aim to measure and describe the adverse health, education, and economic effects they face, and how households and communities can adapt to a rapidly changing world.
  • PERCC uses geographic and demographic data to predict how the distribution and composition of people across different scenarios of global development will change over time. These data can inform when, where, how, and why people contribute to carbon emissions. Ultimately, our results can be used to develop evidence-based programs and policies to mitigate carbon emissions and environmental degradation.
Click here for brief descriptions of PERCC research underway in 2020. 

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