Rachel Cleetus

Policy Director and Lead Economist, Climate & Energy

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Rachel Cleetus is an expert on the design and economic evaluation of climate and energy policies, as well as the costs of climate change. She holds a Ph.D. in economics. See Rachel's full bio.

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The Economic Recovery Depends on Controlling the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the US approaches 4 million COVID-19 cases, it’s pretty clear the public health crisis in our country is alarmingly out of control. The closely connected and worsening economic crisis also deserves careful attention, with data released today showing that 1.4 million workers filed for unemployment last week. Millions of people in the US have lost their jobs during the pandemic and now face an imminent end to expanded unemployment benefits, potential eviction from their homes, food shortages, loss of health insurance and other hardships. Additionally, many small businesses are failing. Congress must swiftly pass a new robustly funded COVID-19 emergency relief package to protect people’s health and their economic well-being. Read more >

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The First COVID-19 Era Hurricane Season Is Here. Are We Ready?

Today NOAA announced its 2020 Atlantic hurricane season forecast and projected an above average year, with a likely range of 6-10 hurricanes and 3-6 major hurricanes expected. This year, we also face hurricane season amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and a worsening economic downturn—yet another example of compound risks that are part of our new normal. Our nation’s ability to keep people safe is going to be severely tested, and in large part depends on how well the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state and local authorities work together under these unprecedented circumstances.

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Flooding, Locusts, and COVID-19: A Triple Disaster for Eastern Africa

The COVID-19 and economic crises in the U.S. are fully occupying our lives these days. Of course, these are also global challenges—with the potential to cripple developing nations that have far fewer resources and medical facilities and many more people living in poverty. Eastern Africa is being hit by a particularly cruel trifecta of disasters right now: a second major locust infestation, massive flooding triggered by heavy rains, and the public health and economic fallout from COVID-19. This in a part of the world where millions of people suffer from severe food insecurity. Read more >

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The Trump Administration’s Assault on Public Health Protections

As we mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the nation is in the throes of a terrible public health crisis. In these desperate times, we are reminded that the protection of public health is a paramount duty of governments—and that our economic prosperity depends on our government diligently undertaking that responsibility. Read more >

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East African Locust Crisis Shows how Climate Change Threatens Food Security

Huge swarms of desert locusts are advancing across the Horn of Africa, threatening crops that millions of people depend on for food. UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Director-General Qu Dongyu has called this “a situation of international dimensions that threatens the food security of the entire subregion.” The unprecedented scale of this infestation has been fueled by climate change, which has contributed to ocean conditions favorable for the unusually high number of cyclones (8 in 2019) and extreme rainfall in the region, creating ideal breeding conditions for locusts. Read more >

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