We currently have the following active research clusters in CFL:

1. After Adaptation

Climate change adaptation projects seek to protect frontline communities against escalating changes both during the project and into the uncertain future. But scholars and practitioners know very little about what happens after such projects end. This unexamined legacy allows projects that fail, deepen inequality, and compound vulnerability to be replicated and scaled up globally, with potentially devastating impacts for frontline communities. This research examines how a project focused on climate change impacts in the Ecuadorian water sector (PACC) continues to shape local livelihoods and national adaptation governance 5 years after project closure. By looking at how adaptation projects endure, to what ends, and for whom, we can understand the possibilities and limitations of adaptation for building climate justice

2. Decarbonizing Adaptation

How can the great imperatives of decarbonization and adaptation be more productively combined to deliver holistic climate action at the needed speed and scale?  How can conjoined green investments to transform the built environment tackle climate vulnerabilities exacerbated by racial inequality and enduring colonialism? We are beginning a project that looks at the opportunities and pitfalls of linking these imperatives at the concrete project level (with a focus on both technical dimensions and political contestations), emerging financial mechanisms that could combine these imperatives, how questions of equity and power pervade these new struggles, and how trillions of dollars in investment in decarbonization and adaptation are an essential opportunity to define new paradigms for transcending and replacing neoliberal climate governance. Meg Mills-Novoa and Daniel Aldana Cohen are leading the project, in collaboration with Kate Cullen (ERG). The project is a partnership between Cohen’s Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative (SC)2 and Mills-Novoa’s Climate Futures Lab. This project is funded with support from University of California, Berkeley’s Climate Equity & Environmental Justice Roundtable.

3. Hydropower Development & Climate Change

We are currently in the midst of a global hydropower boom. A 2015 study found that ​​3,700 major dams are either planned or under construction globally. And that figure does not account for the major uptick in small hydropower projects, ‘run-of-the river’ diversion schemes, and pumped storage projects.  This new hydropower development is being promoted as essential low-carbon energy production, but hydropower also has a high environmental and social cost. This collaborative project, co-led with Sophia Borgias at Boise State University, examines where and how anti-dam social movements are confronting the unique challenges of this new surge in hydropower development. This project is focused on the following research questions:

How have debates about hydropower development shifted since the turn of the 21st century?

  1. What opposition movements have arisen in response to hydropower development during the 21st century?
  2. What role has the World Commission on Dams played in the development of and opposition in this new era of dam conflict?
  3. How has climate change shifted the debates about hydropower development over the last two decades and how has this shaped opposition?
4. Deforestation Frontiers

The Amazon forest faces escalating anthropogenic pressure. Deforestation in the Amazon basin has increased by over 25% for the second year in a row, imperiling biodiversity and the livelihoods of the many communities who live there. By bringing together interdisciplinary methods, this collaborative team of 5 schoalrs seek to understand the drivers and solutions that shape deforestation. This project integrates insights from critical conservation studies and land system science to examine the interaction between agricultural expansion and conservation in the Amazon basin. Our research focuses on 3 protected areas in Bolivia, Brazil and Peru where rapid agricultural expansion is encroaching on areas designated for the conservation of natural biodiversity and local livelihoods.