Model Protocols for Climate Change Impact Analysis

The Sabin Center has developed model protocols describing how government agencies and other decision makers can account for the impacts of climate change in environmental impact assessments and related planning documents.

These protocols were developed in consultation with representatives from federal, state, and local government agencies, environmental consulting firms, NGOs, and academic institutions. They are intended to serve as a resource for organizations and individuals who prepare environmental impact statements (EISs) and other planning documents, and as a potential model for new regulations or guidance on this topic.


Natural Resource Protocol

Considering the Effects of Climate Change on Natural Resources in Environmental Review and Planning Documents: Guidelines for Agencies and Practitioners by Jessica Wentz (September 2016)

This report describes how climate change will affect natural resources in the United States, and explains why consideration ofl how climate change will affect those resources is necessary in order to fulfill legal requirements under NEPA and other statutes governing the management of these resources. It also presents examples of how climate change has been meaningfully accounted for in environmental review and planning documents. The accompanying protocol contains guidelines for considering the impacts of climate change in environmental reviews as well as other planning documents (e.g., resource management plans and resource assessments).

A standalone version of the natural resource management protocol is available here.

An abridged version of the report, which was published in the March 2017 edition of the Environmental Law Reporter, is available here.


Built Environment Protocol

Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on the Built Environment under NEPA and State EIA Laws: A Survey of Current Practices and Recommendations for Model Protocols by Jessica Wentz (August 2015)

This report includes a copy of the model protocol for buildings and infrastructure, as well as an analysis of: (i) the rationale for integrating climate impact considerations into EIA, (ii) the legal basis for requiring agencies to evaluate climate impacts during reviews conducted under NEPA and other EIA laws, (iii) a survey of existing guidelines for such evaluations, (iv) a survey of existing agency practice, and (v) a summary of topics and case studies discussed at the June 18 stakeholder workshop. A stand-alone version of the protocols is available here.

Report appendices: Appendix A: Informational Resources / Appendix B: Excerpts from Selected EISs / Appendix C: List of EISs Surveyed by the Center


Additional Resources

Other Guidelines for Evaluating the Impacts of Climate Change on Projects

This page contains links to governmental and non-governmental guidelines for evaluating the effect of climate change on projects.

Data.gov: Climate Change

This is a federal repository of information about how climate change will affect the United States and tools that can be used to predict and respond to impacts. It includes a link to the Climate Resiliency Toolkit developed to help decision-makers build resilience to climate change.