A Climate-Smart Plan for the Administration to Help Low-Income Communities
Two weeks after Superstorm Sandy, a line of people wait to receive supplies donated to the victims of the hurricane.
President Barack Obama announced yesterday at the fourth and final meeting of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience a series of actions to help state, local, and tribal officials prepare their communities for the effects of climate change. These actions range from helping communities to develop more resilient infrastructure and rebuild stronger and smarter existing infrastructure, to making our coasts more resilient, to providing decision makers with better information on flood and other climate change risks. These are laudable actions that will help communities better prepare for the real and costly effects of climate change. But more action is needed, in particular, to address the skyrocketing risks of climate change in low-income communities.
While many describe extreme weather events as “social equalizers” that do not differentiate based on ethnicity, race, or class, the truth is that these events usually hit low-income communities the hardest because they exacerbate the health, safety, financial, and other socioeconomic problems that low-income communities experience year round.
Aside from a few new federal disaster assistance requirements aimed at helping low-income communities recover from Superstorm Sandy, increasing equity and protecting the most vulnerable populations from climate change risks have not been a strong focus of federal disaster-recovery efforts, resilience strategies, or planning. However, the task force, which the president created in his Climate Action Plan and launched by a November 2013 executive order, has an important opportunity to change this and help protect low-income communities from extreme weather events.
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