Although climate change will affect everyone in Washington state, its impacts will affect economically vulnerable communities most significantly, a report conducted by the Climate Impacts Group finds.
Funded by the Seattle Foundation, the report, An Unfair Share: Exploring the Disproportionate Risks From Climate Change Facing Washington State Communities (73 pages, PDF), found that people of color, indigenous peoples, and those with lower incomes are more likely to be exposed to negative effects of climate change such as fire, flood, drought, and extreme heat as a result of where they live and work.
Part of the foundation's Climate Justice Impact Strategy, a foundation-wide approach aimed at ensuring that communities of color and low-income communities lead and shape efforts that address the impacts of climate change in an equitable way, the report highlights key issues for communities in the state, including the effect of rising temperatures in the Puget Sound region on people working in agriculture, construction, and other outdoor jobs; the impact of rising sea-level and increases in rainfall and runoff on coastal and river communities; and the likelihood of more frequent and intense wildfire activity. The report also notes that resources and social cohesion help determine a community's ability to cope with the impacts of climate change and, given the placed-based nature of climate change-related risks, suggests that community members are the best positioned to develop and deploy solutions that bolster resilience to climate change.
The report is a collaboration between Front and Centered, a climate justice coalition of more than sixty community-based groups; the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group; Urban@UW; and the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.
"This report is an important way to bring together community perspective with academic research to advance solutions to our most critical challenges," said Sally Gillis, who leads the Climate Justice Impact Strategy at Seattle Foundation. "While climate change affects all of us, we need to center our efforts around those most impacted — communities of color and low-income communities."