Project Report:
Climate Cost Project
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Investigates causes tending to destroy or impair the free-market system.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


The Climate Cost Project (CCP) consists of a high school teaching module that includes an interactive game on the economics of climate change, complementary classroom lesson materials, and an experiential exercise requiring students to go out into their communities and collect stories and data from individuals who have been personally and financially impacted by climate-related events. Students will then synthesize classroom learning and field interviews into a capstone video project that will be part of an inter-high school competition. The CCP aims to produce three primary products: 1) a replicable high school teaching module on climate change costs; 2) short videos showing how climate change is personally impacting American communities that can be shared on social media; and 3) the first open access and “bottom up” documentation of local climate change costs.

Witnessing Change Video Competition


Our program is a grassroots educational and video project that asks participants to discover and document the costs of climate change in their own communities through a short video competition.

Over the upcoming years, participants in the Climate Cost Project will help people in affected communities around the country learn about the current effects of climate change, and allow them to share their experiences with the world. Our goal is that these stories will help us better understand the costs of climate change, and motivate communities to take positive action to build resilience and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Having piloted our program in 2015 in New Jersey high schools, the Climate Cost Project now has a second stage pilot expansion underway. This expansion includes opening our Witnessing Change Video Competition to submissions from states across the country, and adding a separate college level competition in addition to the high school competition.

Click the video below to see an introduction to the Climate Cost Project from Co-Founders Dr. Laurie Johnson and Sieren Ernst, discussing their educational and documentary initiative.

Students playing the original Climate Cost Project “You Change It” Game

More information is available at our website:

Winning videos will be posted to our 2017 Walker Foundation grant report.


The project focuses on educating students and the public at large about externalities and the social costs of carbon, and collecting data on the economic costs of climate change. These costs impact the productivity and functioning of the market economy in multiple ways. For example, some climate impacts include (but are by no means limited to): damaging natural, social, and physical capital stocks (and therefore economic productivity and growth); straining local, state, and federal budgets in disaster relief; contributing to potential civil unrest and social dislocation (e.g. through increased food prices, displaced workers, migration); supply chain interferences (e.g. transportation disruptions from extreme weather events, water shortages); significant health care costs (e.g. death and injury from extreme weather events, spread of infectious disease); unpriced carbon externalities that artificially subsidize high polluting energy sources over low or zero emission sources.


The Climate Cost Project's climate economics game and lesson plan, along with the Witnessing Change Video Competition, were successfully piloted in New Jersey in 2015 in three high schools. The project is now expanding this program nationwide and to colleges.

Project Link

Amount Approved
$20,000.00 on 5/31/2016 (Check sent: 6/7/2016)

Witnessing Change Video Competition

1350 Broadway, Suite 201
New York, NY 10018


(212) 290-8200 ext 307


Laurie T Johnson
Director, Citizen Climate Cost Project, Open Space Institute, Inc.

Posted 3/30/2016 6:49 PM
Updated   9/6/2017 11:26 AM

  • Nonprofit

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