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Key findings:
  • Funding towards climate research has grown since 2003 and forms around 1.7% of total research grants or $1.5 billion annually.
  • Climate change research has shifted from the understanding of global systems research towards impacts and responses – studies around adapting to and mitigating climate change.
  • Critical cuts may not be to research but to the agencies that implement the research. Direct USA funding data for climate change research reveals just the tip of the iceberg.
  • USA policy change could undermine the efforts of many other nations and international organisations unless other governments step in to remind the USA of its mutual service obligations.
  • Changes in the focus or magnitude of research funding in one research-intensive economy can have direct and significant consequences for the wider global research landscape; these impacts will not be recognized for quite a while since the nature of this research spans years.
  • U.S. historically leads in climate change funding, while the E.U. has significantly increased funding in recent years.
  • Research funding for ‘climate change’ is not spread evenly across the globe, because some systems and some peoples are much more vulnerable to its impact than others; Arctic habitats and communities face climate change at twice the rate of the rest of the world.

Our analysis of funding data demonstrates the growth and shifting focus of climate research investment and notes its deep impact on monitoring, regularity and policy organisations. Our findings draw attention to the USA infrastructural dependency and how future policy changes could undermine global efforts.