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Closing The "Climate Gap"

By Anna Fahey

Climate change will pick winners and losers unless lawmakers intervene.

A new report out today reveals a real and urgent problem related to the impacts of global warming. It's what the report's research team from -- USC, Berkeley, and Occidental College in Los Angeles -- calls "The Climate Gap." The climate gap is the "often hidden and unequal harm climate change will cause people of color and the poor in the United States." (At Sightline, we've blogged about this issue quite a bit in our climate fairness series.)

Along with the report, the researchers also released an analysis of the American Clean Energy Security Act currently under consideration by Congress -- with solutions to the climate gap top of mind. The researchers suggest that offering fewer free pollution permits to the oil sector -- which has a majority of its facilities in minority and low-income neighborhoods -- and several cushions against higher prices would be positive steps.

More about the Climate Gap:
The report highlights how heat waves, droughts and floods already impact people of color and the poor disproportionately, and are expected to increase in their frequency and intensity.

For instance, African Americans living in Los Angeles have a projected heat-wave-mortality rate that is nearly twice that of other Los Angeles residents. Minorities and the poor are also less likely to have access to air conditioning and cars, restricting their capacity to evacuate.

Furthermore, this report finds that minorities and the poor will breathe even dirtier air and pay even more for basic necessities just as they have fewer or shifting job
opportunities as a result of climate change. Unless policymakers craft policy that works for everybody (not just Big Oil).

More about policy solutions:
The big point here is that policymakers can -- and should -- work to close the Climate Gap in their efforts to address climate change. Here are the policy elements the USC team recommends:

To that list, I might add, money-saving investments in weatherization and other efficiency measures for low-income families.

Smart climate policy can do all that -- while gradually pulling our whole economy off the fossil fuel roller coaster that's whiplashing family budgets and businesses, rich or poor.

Also see: "U.S. Impacts of Climate Change, Human Development" in the Worldchanging archive.

This piece originally appeared in Sightline Institute's blog, The Daily Score.

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This so-called research is highly offensive. It makes the blatant assumption that climate equals weather and misapplies statistics. This report is by far the worst piece of mis-representational "research" ever foisted upon the public. California has always had more heat waves and wildfires. It has nothing to do with climate change.

Posted by: Johannes Rexx on 31 May 09

i thing that we are trying to do everything at the same time and not focus on the most important things, the litle details that make the biggest impact. please people wake up your neibours

Posted by: nuno miguel on 16 Dec 09

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