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Environmental Protection Indicators for California (EPIC)
Indicators of Climate Change in California: Environmental Justice Impacts
In 2009, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s (Cal/EPA) Office of the Secretary requested the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to develop indicators describing the disproportionate impacts of climate change on environmental justice communities. These indicators will help Cal/EPA examine potential environmental justice concerns associated with climate change.
Evidence is emerging that some of the projected impacts of climate change on human health and well-being are already occurring. Some of these impacts may disproportionately affect those who are socially or economically disadvantaged, and hence represent environmental justice concerns.
This report presents four indicators that help track trends relating to the disproportionate impacts of climate change on these communities. The indicators chosen were selected based on evidence that: (1) the impacts of climate change are already occurring (rather than projected to occur based on future climate scenarios); and (2) disparities exist among socioeconomic or racial groups in either the degree of exposure to a hazard, or the capacity to take action to reduce exposures or minimize adverse outcomes. The indicators are summarized in the text box below.
Air conditioner ownership and cost
Farm worker exposure to extreme heat
Exposure to urban heat
Vulnerability to wildfires
The lack of California-specific data—in particular, community-level data—needed to examine disparities among income or racial groups precluded the development of more indicators. The present work also does not address projected impacts where the influence of climate change cannot be distinguished from the effects of other factors. Lastly, potential disparities resulting from climate change mitigation policies, strategies or regulations are beyond the scope of this report.