CSSN Research Agenda

Research Agenda

Today, the window to address the climate change crisis is closing, and current efforts to spur action have been insufficient. Thus there is a need to develop a more effective strategy. Addressing the lack of effective political action requires a firm and well-grounded understanding of the organized interests that are engaged in the contentious politics of climate change, the nature of the activities that these organizations engaged in, and their impact on both public understanding of this issue and the policy process.  This understanding can then provide a foundation for formulating more effective strategies to inform both funding priorities and organizational action.


To develop an integrated understanding of climate change political action, the research agenda focuses on four key questions.

  • What organizations are engaged in this effort?
  • What activities do these organizations engage in?
  • How do these activities impact media and public understanding of climate change?
  • What impact do these activities have on climate policy?


To answer these questions, the research agenda focuses on the following areas:

  1. Organizational Relationships: Develop an understanding of the key organizational actors in climate change political action, both domestically and internationally, and their relationships with one another, including funding and contracting relationships, overlapping board memberships, and collaborative efforts. These include organizational entities such as advocacy organizations, think tanks, trade associations, ad hoc coalitions, corporations, foundations, universities, and public relations firms.
  2. Advocacy Efforts: Chart the origin, nature, and extent of climate change political activity.  This includes activities such as lobbying, political contributions, advertising campaigns, corporate promotion and public relations campaigns, grassroots mobilization, and media outreach efforts.
  3. Cultural and Media Impacts: Understand how organizational efforts impact cultural, intellectual, and media discourse on climate change, and how this coverage impacts public and elite understanding of this issue, and its impacts on the political process.
  4. Decision Making Process:  Examine the process of establishing climate and energy policy and how institutional actors influence governance decisions that impact on climate change.
  5. Cross-area Data Gathering:  Compile and promulgate data sets and information that supports this research agenda.


What is Climate Obstruction?

Climate obstruction: the intentional slowing or blocking of policy or action on climate change that is commensurate with the current scientific consensus of what is necessary to avoid dangerous human-caused interference with the climate system.