, Volume 109, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 485-503
Date: 24 Nov 2011

The climate gap: environmental health and equity implications of climate change and mitigation policies in California—a review of the literature

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Climate change is an issue of great importance for human rights, public health, and socioeconomic equity because of its diverse consequences overall as well as its disproportionate impact on vulnerable and socially marginalized populations. Vulnerability to climate change is determined by a community’s ability to anticipate, cope with, resist, and recover from the impact of major weather events. Climate change will affect industrial and agricultural sectors, as well as transportation, health, and energy infrastructure. These shifts will have significant health and economic consequences for diverse communities throughout California. Without proactive policies to address these equity concerns, climate change will likely reinforce and amplify current as well as future socioeconomic disparities, leaving low-income, minority, and politically marginalized groups with fewer economic opportunities and more environmental and health burdens. This review explores the disproportionate impacts of climate change on vulnerable groups in California and investigates the costs and benefits of the climate change mitigation strategies specified for implementation in the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). Lastly, knowledge gaps, future research priorities, and policy implications are identified.