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Climate Vulnerability Index

Based on the peer-reviewed journal article, Characterizing vulnerabilities to climate change across the United States, a dashboard and an interactive map of the U.S. designed by Darkhorse Analytics, the CVI allows users to search by location and view their overall climate vulnerability and the conditions that shape it – from quality of housing and access to supermarkets to proximity to toxic waste sites and number of deaths from air pollution. For example, census tracts in Houston’s Settegast community rank in the 99th percentile for overall vulnerability. The CVI shows what is driving vulnerability, including low chronic disease prevention, high exposure to harmful pollutants like soot and inadequate access to fresh, nutritious food.

Pulling in 184 sets of data to rank more than 70,000 U.S. Census tracts, the U.S. Climate Vulnerability Index helps users see which communities face the greatest challenges from the impacts of a changing climate. This tool shows what factors are driving the challenges, so policymakers and communities themselves can take action to build climate resilience where it is needed most.

You can interact with the map by:

  • Searching for a location
  • Zooming and panning across different areas
  • Clicking on a location for more details
  • Adjusting the map scale filter to focus on higher vulnerability locations

Searching for Energy, the CVI map shows the sources, availability, and affodability of energy in every U.S. census tract. Zooming in on the Chicago area, for example, shows that some census tracts, such as South Side, are ranked as having the “highest vulnerability” rating, in the 95-99 percentile compared with other locations across the country. Other locations in Chicago are much less vulnerable, ranking as low as 18th percentile in terms of energy vulnerabiilty.

African American volunteer and her coworkers talk while organizing donations at community center.
Media Article

Advancing Environmental Justice through Community Based Participatory Research

A journal article from We Act for Environmental Justice, discusses how community based participatory research builds capacity in communities and ensures government agencies and academic institutions are better able to incorporate community concerns into their research agendas.
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Media Article

The richest Americans account for 40 percent of U.S. climate emissions

The richest 10 percent of U.S. households are responsible for 40 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study released Thursday in PLOS Climate. The study, which looked at how a household’s income generated emissions, underlines the stark divide between those who benefit most from fossil fuels and those who are most burdened by its effects. “It just seems morally and politically problematic to have one group of people reaping so much benefit from emissions while the poorer groups in society are asked to disproportionately deal with the harms of those emissions,” Starr, a sustainability scientist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said. Previous research has shown that extreme weather events made worse because of climate change, from flooding to hurricanes, often have a greater effect on lower-income communities.
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Press Release

New Website Helps People Have a Voice in Energy Decisions That Affect Their Lives, Communities

Environmental Defense Fund and Blacks in Green have launched a new website that will help people around the country get involved in decisions about energy for their communities. The website, Community Voices in Energy, gives people tools to participate in energy decision making so they can  protect their health, environment and money. These tools work with other planks of the partners’ Campaign To End Energy Poverty, which is designed to help make energy more affordable for all. The American standard is that light and heat cost about six percent of household income, but some low-income and frontline communities pay 20 percent or more. “Everyone should have a voice in creating our clean energy future and economic participation in the benefits. For that to happen, they need the ability to help shape decisions about the energy systems they rely on,” said Naomi Davis, founder and CEO of Blacks in Green and organizer of the campaign. “Our website is designed to help demystify the processes used by public utilities commissions and give people the tools they need to overcome participation hurdles.” The energy sector is one of the largest sources of climate pollution in the U.S., yet few people know how to get involved and influence the decisions public utility regulators make to govern gas and electric companies. Low-income and frontline communities often face more consequences from energy decisions than anyone else. Communities located near polluting power plants suffer from higher than average rates asthma and other lung diseases, lower property values, and worse air quality. At the same time, utilities have historically invested more in wealthier neighborhoods – so low-income communities can face more blackouts, slower repairs and less reliable service even while paying high and rising energy rates. Community Voices in Energy provides resources to help people learn about energy issues in their area, a toolkit to help them get involved, and training to help them provide expert testimony that brings community interests into public utility hearings. “A more just and equitable energy system is within reach, said Christie Hicks, EDF Senior Director for Equitable Regulatory Solutions. “When more people get involved in the process, it will change the information that regulators have – and that will change the way big decisions about energy are made. We hope this website will help utility regulators make rulings that lead to a more equitable, healthy and affordable energy future for all.”
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Media Article

Advocates hail regulatory ‘earthquake’ as state slashes requested gas rate increases

Illinois regulators unanimously approved rate hikes for four major natural gas utilities, but slashed the utilities' requested rate increases by as much as 50%. The regulators also launched a series of "future of gas" hearings that will for the first time hold the utilities accountable for aligning their planning with the state's 100% clean energy goals. "As the state embarks on a journey toward a 100% clean energy economy, the gas system's operations will not continue to exist in its current form," the Commission's Chairman said in a statement.