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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Njeri Mwangi/Reuters

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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Unite Behind the Science event on December 10, 2019 at COP25 Ashley Siefert Nunes

Reflections from COP25 in Madrid

You’ve seen the news: COP25, the recent UN climate talks in Madrid, ended in disappointment and also set a record for the longest-ever COP. UCS’s press release headline says it all: World’s Nations Take Immoral Stance at COP25, Side with Trump, Bolsonaro Rather Than Youth Across the Globe. Here are some snippets of how it looked on the ground. Read more >

Ashley Siefert Nunes
Rachel Cleetus
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Jiayu Liang/UCS

5 Things I’ll be Watching for During the Weather Channel’s 2020: The Race to Save the Planet

Tomorrow the Weather Channel will be airing a special on climate change, 2020: The Race to Save the Planet, featuring interviews with eight presidential candidates from both parties. It couldn’t come at a more appropriate time: the reality of climate impacts and the opportunities of a just transition to a clean energy economy are crystal clear, and we are desperately in need of federal climate leadership. Read more >

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Photo: Omari Spears/UCS

Striking for Global Climate Justice

The global climate strike on September 20th is likely to be the biggest global climate action to date. My kids and I will be joining the strike in New York City and we’ve been talking a lot about what this moment means. It’s incredibly powerful to see the young people leading these strikes recognize the global nature of the challenge and the need to center justice in how we address it.  Read more >

Photo: Omari Spears/UCS
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Clouds associated with a tropical disturbance bubbled up over the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Credit: NOAA

How Climate Risks Get Compounded: Louisiana Grapples With Heavy Rain, Tropical Storm Barry, and Swollen Mississippi

Heavy recent rains, along with the looming threats from tropical storm Barry, are putting New Orleans and other Louisiana communities at risk of major, life-threatening flooding.

Images from earlier this week show city streets turned into rivers as close to 9 inches of rain fell in three hours. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is predicting that tropical storm Barry could come ashore on Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane. Meanwhile, the Mississippi is flowing very high due to heavy rains in the Midwest and South Central US earlier this year. Additional rain and storm surge from Barry mean that flooding is forecast to be extensive, and warnings have been raised that some levees in Louisiana could be overtopped or come close to that.

This chain of compound climate-related risks highlights the kinds of unprecedented threats climate change is forcing on people. Read more >

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