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Healthy, Climate-Resilient Homes for All: Centering Housing Justice and Health Equity in Building Decarbonization

December 22, 2023

Buildings are responsible for more than 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Building decarbonization, consisting of building electrification and energy efficiency, can reduce energy use and GHG emissions related to buildings.However, the built environment is also home to long-standing inequities in housing quality for systematically marginalized communities, which contribute to health disparities such as childhood asthma. Current patterns of housing quality inequity are directly connected to racist policies and practices, such as redlining and exclusionary zoning. These policies have led to communities of color and low-income communities experiencing higher levels of environmental pollution, poorer housing conditions, and greater household energy burden compared to their White counterparts. Current building decarbonization programs and policies threaten to perpetuate these injustices. By centering the leadership of disinvested communities and integrating health equity in building decarbonization, we have an immense opportunity to address buildings' GHG emissions; improve housing quality and address related health disparities; make our infrastructure more resilient to climate change; and advance a more just and equitable future.

Closing the Climate Investment Gap: California Must Prioritize Climate-Smart Transportation Projects

October 4, 2023

The danger of climate change to Californians is more obvious than ever, with extreme weather and climate-related disasters making it clear that the status quo cannot continue. The California Air Resources Board recently adopted a plan to achieve carbon neutrality and cut human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2045. Because transportation is the largest source of GHG emissions in California, reaching these goals will require both rapid vehicle electrification and reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by investing in low-carbon mobility like public transit, bike paths, and pedestrian safety improvements across the state.NRDC analyzed state transportation investment decisions across 10 key funding programs that span 2019 to 2027—representing $22.4 billion invested in 4,824 projects—to see to what extent California's transportation spending matches the urgency of its climate goals. Unfortunately, our analysis finds a disconnect between the projects and programs that California funds and the urgency to decarbonize the transportation system in order to meet the state's climate goals: Less than one-fifth of the total budget is going to VMT-reducing projects.In a time of climate crisis, we can no longer afford to spend more than 80 percent of our state transportation investments expanding and maintaining the very sector that is contributing more than any other to climate pollution.

Climate Change and Fisheries: Modernizing Fisheries Science for Climate Resilience

November 8, 2022

Robust science is the foundation of U.S. fisheries management. It is what allows managers to avoid overfishing, maintain stable and sustainable fisheries, provide domestically produced seafood, and protect our ocean ecosystems. Yet the pace and scale of climate change is challenging fisheries science by undermining traditional methods and fundamental assumptions—and in turn threatening to undo decades of work rebuilding our nation's fishery populations and managing them sustainably.

Summer in the City: Improving Community Resilience to Extreme Summertime Heat in Northern Manhattan

July 20, 2021

Due to the impacts of climate change, summers are getting are hotter across the globe—but the health impacts of this heat are not felt equally, even within the same city. In New York City and many other cities across the United States, extreme heat disproportionately impacts certain vulnerable populations.Since 1900, New York City has warmed by 4.4°F, more than double the 2°F increase for the state as a whole. While this kind of heat can be uncomfortable for many city residents, it becomes life-threatening for others. That is due in no small part to the temperature variations within a city—trees, parks, and greenery bring temperatures down, while areas packed with concrete and asphalt skyrocket high temperatures even higher. In part due to historical and current patterns of racial discrimination and segregation, people of color often live in areas characterized by abundant heat-retaining surfaces and a lack of canopied vegetation. These residents are less likely to own or be able to afford to run an air conditioner and more likely to suffer from pre-existing health problems that can be aggravated by heat. Extreme heat vulnerability in New York City is, quite simply, an environmental injustice.This report looks at how exposure to extreme summertime heat is distributed unevenly throughout New York City, discusses the health burdens extreme heat imposes on environmental justice communities, and suggests equitable policy solutions that reflect the concerns and experiences of those most impacted by extreme heat.

The Costs of Inaction: The Economic Burden of Fossil Fuels and Climate Change on Health in the U.S.

May 20, 2021

In this report, we conclude that the health costs of air pollution and climate change already far exceed $800 billion per year and are expected to become even more expensive in years to come without a stronger societal response to address this crisis. This price tag most likely vastly underestimates the true total costs of these problems, due to limited available health data. These large and growing financial costs—as well as the major health harms of air pollution and climate change—are often overlooked. Now is the time to recognize how much these linked problems are costing us.