Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

The Center for Climate Integrity

The Center provides support to those who have suffered damage due to climate change and who seek to hold climate polluters accountable.

IGSD’s newest initiative, the Center for Climate Integrity, was launched in August 2017. Our services include legal analysis, climate science expertise, communications and community engagement, fact investigation and document management, and policy.

Our central goal is to accelerate corporate and governmental policy changes that speed the energy transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources and that otherwise contribute to a safe climate. One way to advance this goal is to require fossil fuel producers to bear the cost of the damage caused by their products.  To that end, CCI works to:

  • Effectively communicate climate change issues based on the principles of “polluter pays” and accountability for corporate misconduct;
  • Support meritorious climate cases aimed at holding fossil fuel companies and other climate polluters liable for the damages they have caused.

The Center works with partners in communities across the country to educate the public and policymakers about the massive costs of coping with the damage attributable to global warming, and the need for climate polluters to pay their fair share. We provide campaign infrastructure, resources, and strategic direction for citizens concerned about climate change, and communities working to communicate and organize around the concept of climate accountability and the polluter pays principle. We create content, coordinate across organizations, and investigate how best to engage citizens and decision makers to hold climate polluters – instead of taxpayers – accountable for these costs.

CCI, in partnership with Resilient Analytics (an engineering firm specializing in climate adaptation), recently released a groundbreaking study that reveals the baseline costs communities will have to pay to protect themselves from sea-level rise by 2040. The study, High Tide Tax: The Price to Protect Coastal Communities from Rising Seas, is the first large scale accounting of the costs states, counties, congressional districts, and cities in the U.S. face to adapt to climate change in the short term.

Time is short to slow accelerating climate impacts, with perhaps 15 years or less remaining to stabilize climate change before self-reinforcing feedbacks and irreversible tipping points increase impacts to catastrophic and perhaps even existential proportions.

Even if the U.S. and all the other Paris parties fully implement their voluntary pledges under the agreement, which is not likely, the world would not come close to staying within the 2°C warming target, let alone the more prudent 1.5°C—neither of which can guarantee climate safety given the impacts the world is already suffering today at 1°C of warming above pre-Industrial levels, and the impacts associated with today’s concentration of carbon dioxide, which include the possibility of 10 to 20 meters of sea level rise.

Current climate policy is inadequate, and opposition from major fossil fuel companies is a key reason. Judicial enforcement of the “polluter pays” principle against the companies whose products are the central cause of global warming addresses both:

  • the need to deal fairly with the consequences of their past conduct and
  • the need to encourage fossil fuel companies to change their behavior going forward.

Our Team

Richard Wiles, Executive Director

Alyssa Johl, Legal Director

Gabi Porter, Campaigns Director

Mike Meno, Press Secretary

Emily Sanders, Editorial Lead

Abbey Dufoe, Digital Content Strategist

Megan Matthews, Research Associate

Sverre LeRoy, Climate Scientist

Corey Riday-White, Staff Attorney

Durwood Zaelke, President, IGSD

Contact: Richard Wiles (e) rwiles@climateintegrity.org (p) 202 338 1300