Climatic Change

, Volume 109, Supplement 1, pp 485–503 | Cite as

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

  • Seth B. Shonkoff
  • Rachel Morello-FroschEmail author
  • Manuel Pastor
  • James Sadd


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.


Gross Domestic Product Heat Wave Extreme Weather Event Climate Change Policy Extreme Heat Event 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Work for this project was supported by: the California Air Resources Board, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Annenberg Foundation, the Energy Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seth B. Shonkoff
    • 1
  • Rachel Morello-Frosch
    • 2
    Email author
  • Manuel Pastor
    • 3
  • James Sadd
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, Division of Society and EnvironmentUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management & School of Public HealthUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Geography and American Studies and EthnicityUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Department of Environmental Science and GeologyOccidental CollegeLos AngelesUSA

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