Search Results for: Climate

Climate Change, Public Health and Environmental Justice: Caring for Our Most Vulnerable Communities


About the Author: Lesley Jantarasami has worked in the Climate Change Division of the U.S. EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation for over 7 years to integrate scientific information to inform policy on climate change risks to human health and the environment. Lesley was a lead author on the interagency Climate Change and Human Health Assessment report published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. She also serves as the Division’s environmental justice and tribal coordinator, managing projects to identify and communicate climate change risks to minority, low-income, and indigenous populations.

Some hear the word vulnerable and think “that’s not me.”

Many people don’t think of themselves as being vulnerable because the word can conjure images of people living in other parts of the world, in other economic situations, or with different life stories and experiences.

The Duwamish River is truly an urban resource that supports wide-range uses, including: industry, boating, fishing, residential, and just relaxing. Due to industrial and stormwater pollution, the lower 5.5 miles of the river was placed on the EPA's Superfund site list in 2001.Visit to learn more about EPA's efforts to clean up and restore the Lower Duwamish River.

But the U.S. Climate and Health assessment, recently released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, found that every American is vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change at some point in their lives. No matter who you are, where you live, or what you care about, climate change affects you. Climate change affects everyone’s health because it threatens our access to clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food, and shelter.

And though we are all vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change, some groups are disproportionately affected. In other words, there are many factors that can contribute to someone being less able to prepare for, respond to, and cope with the impacts of climate change on health, and these factors thus increase vulnerability to the health impacts of climate change. For people of color, low-income communities, immigrants, and people who are not fluent in English, these factors can include:

  • living in areas particularly vulnerable to climate change (like along the coast);
  • coping with higher levels of existing health risks when compared to other groups;
  • living in low-income communities with limited access to healthcare services;
  • having high rates of uninsured individuals who have difficulty accessing quality healthcare;
  • having limited availability of information and resources in a person’s native language; and
  • having less ability to relocate or rebuild after a disaster.

Climate-related health challenges are an environmental justice issue because certain communities that already experience multiple environmental health burdens are also disproportionately affected by climate change. These groups are less able than others to adapt to or recover from climate change impacts. Understanding our shared vulnerabilities to climate change can help people and communities plan for risks, adapt to changes, and protect health.


Click here to access the Climate Change Materials!

Click here to access the Climate Change Materials!

EPA received requests from community leaders for products that would help them inform and educate their community about the potential impacts of climate change on their health. In response to this need, EPA recently posted communication materials that summarize key points from the U.S. Climate and Health Assessment.

We’ve created communication materials for a variety of other populations disproportionately affected by climate change, including, indigenous people, pregnant women, children, older adults, occupational groups, people with pre-existing health conditions and people with disabilities.

You can access these materials at:
For questions or to request more information, email

These informational materials are designed to be easy to adapt for your needs and are accessible to a range of audiences that want to know more about how climate change health risks are connected to environmental justice concerns.

Also, you can join EPA on January 17, 2017 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time for a webinar that will introduce these communications materials and discuss how they can be used to inform your conversations about climate change health risks and connections to environmental justice concerns. Please register for the webinar here:

We hope you find these materials useful and we look forward to speaking with all of you during our upcoming webinar!

Finding My Place as a Climate Justice Activist

About the Author: Hodan Hassan is a Climate Justice Organizer for Got Green. She gained skills as a political organizer while working on group of college and university campuses as a Washington Bus Fellow. 

Got Green4

I was an underemployed college graduate looking for a job when I was invited to be part of the Climate Justice Committee, organized by Puget Sound Sage and Got Green. I had never really thought about climate-related work. I was much more concerned with racism and I wanted to work mostly organizing with black communities. Climate was not my thing and I didn’t see the connection between a warming climate and the immediate challenges facing my community and other communities of color, but I said yes.

Climate Justice Steering CommitteeIn our first committee meeting, I was in a room full of young people of color from all backgrounds. We immediately started talking about climate change: what it is, what it isn’t and what it means to live in the kinds of environments that many people of color live in around our country.

Still, I wasn’t ready to punch my ticket to “climate justice activist land” just yet.

As a black Muslim woman living in the United States, in my mind, there were things that were much more pressing than climate change.  And to be honest, every time I had ever heard the words climate change, I still couldn’t relate.

Then a fellow committee member explained to me how climate threatens our livelihoods, especially as communities of color. I learned that a majority of African Americans live near coal plants and other polluting industries, which hurts their health while contributing to climate change.

This was when I realized that climate justice was an important journey that I wanted to be part of.

Got Green3

Led by young adults and people of color, Got Green is a grassroots organization that promotes movement towards an equitable, green economy as a strategy for fighting poverty and global warming.

I served as a member of the Climate Justice Committee for five months, learning new information every day, like how the environments where we live impact our health and opportunities. I was also growing as an organizer, working with different people on how to engage communities of color in climate work. In June 2015 the opportunity to work for Got Green as their climate justice organizer presented itself.

Climate Justice Steering Committee3Within Got Green I can incorporate all of the passions I care about under the umbrella of climate justice work. I can be a black Muslim woman who is concerned about racial disparities while also working on climate-related issues to prevent displacement of communities of color from things like a lack of preparedness to extreme weather events and inequitable development.

Our People Report

Read the report here!

Last year, Got Green launched the Climate Justice Project, a community-based participatory research project surveying individuals and communities about their climate change priorities. This project, contracted by the City of Seattle’s Equity and Environment Initiative, found that only 24 percent of participants thought people of color and low income people are most impacted by climate change. This tells us that the current climate activist narrative is not working. We are not talking about climate change in a way that’s culturally relevant to people of color.

Here at Got Green we are working to change that.

Like with our most recent work as a project partner with El Centro de la Raza. As a result of receiving an Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) Cooperative Agreement from the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, we will be assisting El Centro to improve the environmental health of the Beacon Hill neighborhood through educational outreach, engagement and capacity building.

Climate Justice Steering Committee Mtg1It is projects like these where we start by localizing the impacts and connecting people of color to what’s going on in our communities so that people, like me, can see themselves in climate work.

And it is this work that has taught me that only through an inclusive and diverse movement can we truly hope to ensure all people are protected from a warming and destabilizing climate.

A Historic Day in Our Fight Against Climate Change

By Administrator Gina McCarthy

Protecting the air we breathe and slowing the effects of climate change are a core part of EPA’s mission. And today, I am proud to say that we, alongside nearly every country on Earth, have taken another historic step in carrying out that mission by cutting down on the use of damaging hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

Countries, including the United States, have long used HFCs to meet their refrigeration and air conditioning needs. These greenhouse gases can have warming impacts hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide. In a nutshell, these HFCs cool our homes and chill our food, but they are turning up the temperature of our planet.

And over the next several years, HFC use is expected to not only grow—but multiply. Their emissions are increasing by 10 to 15 percent on an annual basis globally. That’s why, this week in Rwanda, world leaders took a giant leap forward by agreeing to a global phase-down of these harmful gases.

As head of the U.S. delegation to the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, I met with leaders from around the world who share a commitment to protecting the planet and scaling down these harmful gases. Together, joined by Secretary of State John Kerry, we agreed to take action and get the job done. And that’s exactly what we did.

The Montreal Protocol, a successful global environmental agreement, is already putting the world on track to heal the Earth’s ozone layer by mid-century. And this week, 197 countries agreed on an ambitious amendment that will help protect Earth’s climate by significantly reducing the consumption and production of HFCs.

By acting now, we’re avoiding up to a full half a degree centigrade of warming by the end of the century. This is a big deal, because our scientists say very clearly that we must keep our planet’s temperature from rising 2 degrees above our normal temperature. And today’s announcement brings us that much closer to avoiding that “point of no return.”

We’re also agreeing to devote more resources to finding and using safer, more climate-friendly alternatives. And we’re building on the significant gains we’ve already made to protect ourselves and our children from the dangerous effects of climate change.

At EPA, we’re doing our part to cut down on HFCs here at home.

Just two weeks ago, we finalized two rules that will reduce the use and emissions of HFCs. The first—under our Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program—adds new alternatives to the list of acceptable substitutes for HFCs. It also sets deadlines to completely stop using HFCs in certain applications where safer alternatives are available. The second rule strengthens our current refrigerant management practices and extends them to include HFCs.

This week has truly been historic. Our global commitment to protecting our planet brought us to this moment. It’s an exciting time for all of us who have worked so hard to get here. And while we have seen many significant successes under President Obama’s leadership in tackling climate change, this day will be remembered as one of the most important. I was proud to represent the United States in Rwanda this week. There is no doubt in my mind that U.S. leadership was essential to reaching this agreement.

Yes, there will be challenges ahead. But the past week reminds us that when faced with clear science, when buoyed by the strong partnership of developed and developing countries working together, we can make great strides to protect the one planet we have.

Building the Next Generation of Climate Justice Leaders

About the Author: Joanna Stancil is the Senior Advisor for State and Private Forestry at the U.S. Forest Service. She is a member of the Climate Change Sub-Committee of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice. This subcommittee is responsible for leading the charge of the EMI Climate Justice Initiative.

If the future belongs to our youth, then we must include our youth in addressing our future’s key issues, such as climate change and climate justice.

In 2015, the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG), in collaboration with the White House, announced the Educate, Motivate, and Innovate (EMI) Climate Justice Initiative. The goals of this initiative are to educate by providing a two-way learning experience, motivate by igniting interest in climate justice, and innovate by embracing opportunities for creative thought and action.


Student Panel during EMI Workshop at the 2016 National Environmental Justice Conference

This initiative would be incomplete, however, if it did not target those most disproportionately impacted by climate change. It has been well documented that the impacts of a warming and increasingly unstable climate are already weighing more heavily on underserved, low-income, minority, and tribal communities. That’s why the EMI initiative builds collaborative relationships between federal government agencies and Minority-Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions.

Earlier this year, three students were selected and asked to share the projects they had been developing in their local communities during the EMI’s inaugural training workshop held as part of the 2016 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program.


Soh-Yoke Bravo,  from Florida International University, examined the relationship between reforestation and carbon sequestration.

Lauren Wiggins and Kelley McClelland, from Tennessee State University, investigated air quality using funding from the Toxic Release Inventory Challenge. Soh-Yoke Bravo, from Florida International University, examined the relationship between reforestation and carbon sequestration.

The workshop focused on the effects of climate change on communities and featured training on EPA’s EJSCREEN, an environmental justice screening tool that provides users powerful data and mapping capabilities to access environmental and demographic information. Hands-on training with EJSCREEN allowed participants to explore how the tool can help them identify and better understand potential community vulnerabilities. Users identified communities they were concerned about and used the tool to better understand demographic and environmental trends for the area.

Lauren Wiggins and Kelley McClelland, from Tennessee State University, investigated air quality using funding from the Toxic Release Inventory Challenge.

Lauren Wiggins and Kelley McClelland, from Tennessee State University, investigated air quality using funding from the TRI Challenge.

Due to the success of the inaugural EMI workshop, we are excited to announce that the 2nd annual EMI workshop will be held during the March 8-10, 2017 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program in Washington, DC.

The EMI initiative has released the Call for Student Abstracts to all students attending Minority Serving Institutions and Tribal Colleges and Universities, who are interested in participating in the EMI workshop. The workshop at the 2017 National Environmental Justice Conference will provide a forum for the selected students to share their work addressing the impacts of climate change on communities with environmental justice concerns.

We are looking for abstracts that address resiliency, adaptation and mitigation with a focus on relationships between climate change and climate justice and human health, environmental health, culture, traditional practices, and/or economic development.

Of particular interest are:

  • Technical environmentalism – green apps
  • Geo-mapping
  • Forest or landscape impacts and community solutions
  • Traditional ecological knowledge
  • Capacity building
  • Green and renewable energy: just transition, just sustainability
  • Climate change impacts: water/sewer infrastructure enhancement
  • Wetlands protection
  • Human health and safety reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Impact of residential and commercial development

Interested individuals should visit this webpage, or contact Joanna Stancil for additional information on how to submit their abstract.

These young minds are indeed the next generation of climate justice leaders and we are honored to offer opportunities for them to expand their knowledge about the environment and climate and to hone their leadership skills.  We truly believe that with help from these young people, we will be able to address our climate concerns with solutions that are equitable and sustainable.

A New Effort to Save the Ozone Layer and Protect the Climate

By Ernest Moniz and Gina McCarthy

As world leaders gathered at the United Nations this week, the Obama administration and global partners today announced several unprecedented steps to secure an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This successful global agreement is already putting Earth’s fragile ozone layer back on track to full restoration. But an ambitious amendment would dramatically cut down on the usage of damaging greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs.

HFCs are commonly used in air conditioning and refrigeration applications around the world. They can be hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide and their emissions are increasing by 10 to 15 percent on an annual basis globally. That’s why we must continue working to replace HFCs with more climate-friendly alternatives. And an amendment to the Montreal Protocol is the best way to do that.

Last year, global leaders agreed to “work within the Montreal Protocol to an HFC amendment in 2016.” Coming to an agreement among nearly 200 countries is never easy, and considerable differences still need to be bridged. But we’re confident that an amendment will be reached during final negotiations at the next Montreal Protocol conference in Rwanda next month.

Today’s announcements include four main components that will help ensure a strong outcome during the conference:

  • One: Including an appropriate “early freeze date,” when production and consumption of HFC refrigerants must stop increasing in so-called Article 5 countries (i.e., those in need of assistance). During an event in New York this morning, ministers representing more than 100 countries rallied behind an ambitious amendment with an “early freeze date.”
  • Two: 16 donor countries and philanthropists announced their intent to provide $80 million in fast start support to Article 5 countries. $27 million in funding from donor countries is being offered to help Article 5 countries jump-start their efforts to design and implement programs that reduce HFCs. It will be provided as long as an ambitious amendment with a sufficiently early freeze date is adopted this year. Meanwhile, $53 million from philanthropists will help countries maximize economic benefits during this transition through various energy efficiency programs. This is the largest-ever package of fast-start philanthropic support for boosting the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment. The Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that a 30 percent improvement in air conditioner efficiency can double the climate benefits of an amendment. DOE has long invested in research and development, as well as standards to improve energy efficiency, including in the air conditioning sector where transitioning to HFC alternatives is important. For example, our Super-Efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial partners with governments to spur efficiency policies and programs that yield billions of dollars in consumer savings while cutting carbon pollution. Today’s announcements will super-size this work, bolstering the confidence of all countries that they can cut energy costs as they phase down HFCs.
  • Three: Today, the Energy Department also published a report with the results of a testing program to evaluate the performance of HFC alternatives in hot climates. This is important because some countries have raised questions about whether HFC alternatives can perform as well as current refrigerants in those conditions. Today’s new results demonstrate that HFC alternatives can perform just as well as current refrigerants even under the harshest conditions. In fact, they sometimes perform even better. Today’s report focuses on rooftop air conditioning units that are popular in countries such as Saudi Arabia, but a similar testing program in 2015 that focused on mini-split air conditioning units came to the same conclusion. In both cases, the testing program was conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and guided by an international panel of technical experts from a broad and diverse set of countries.
  • Four: To round out the announcements today, hundreds of companies and sub-national governments – represented through associations or individually – voiced support for an ambitious amendment. That list of supporters includes major global firms that rely on air conditioning and refrigeration in their operations like 3M, Dell, Microsoft, Nike, Red Bull, Symantec, and Unilever, and it demonstrates that there is a strong coalition of stakeholders seeking a strong outcome in Rwanda next month.

In addition to taking these steps, we look forward to advancing our joint collaboration on the Energy Star program. For more than two decades, this program has helped American citizens and businesses learn more about energy-efficient products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We also look forward to continuing to work with our international partners as we take a giant step toward meeting the goals of the historic Paris Agreement. And we will push to secure the strongest possible HFC amendment next month in Kigali.

Bubbling Up: Methane from Reservoirs Presents Climate Change Challenge

By Rose Keane

EPA researcher Jake Beaulieu spends a lot of his time on the water, especially at Harsha Lake, a reservoir just southeast of Cincinnati, OH. He’s not a sailor, nor does he work with marine life. Instead, Beaulieu studies how methane (CH4)—a less discussed but more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide—is emitted from reservoirs. He and other EPA researchers are developing new models and tools to improve methane emission estimates in reservoirs and our understanding of their contributions to greenhouse gas levels globally.

Beaulieu’s team using a new surveying technique to measure methane emissions from reservoirs.

Beaulieu’s team is applying surveying techniques in novel ways to estimate methane emissions.

Methane gas contributes to rising temperatures and one way it is produced is by tiny organisms in sediments at the bottom of lakes. One important source of food for these organisms is decaying algae, which is converted to methane when eaten by these tiny organisms.

According to Beaulieu, the way that methane emission rates from reservoirs are currently estimated doesn’t take into account a number of factors that can affect how much is emitted into the atmosphere such as the location, water depth, overall size of the reservoir and other conditions.

One of the main ways that large amounts of methane are released from reservoirs is through something called ebullition—or more simply, the bubbles that come up from the mud. The bubbles are filled with methane, and Beaulieu’s research has shown that in areas where the water is deeper and less disturbed, there’s less of these methane bubbles coming to the surface. In areas where the water is more shallow or more frequently disturbed, there’s not enough weight (from the atmosphere or from the water itself) to hold the bubbles in, so emissions increase.

In April this year, 177 countries and states across the world signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change—a landmark agreement that outlines ways for countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, encourage more sustainable infrastructure and economic development, and better plan for responding to the impacts of changing climatic conditions. Beaulieu says that improved estimates of methane emissions from reservoirs will result in better information that can aid in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

His paper, Estimates of reservoir methane emissions based on a spatially balanced probabilistic survey, was recently published in Limnology and Oceanography.

About the Author: Rose Keane is an Oak Ridge Associated Universities contractor with the science communications team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Climate Change…By the Seashore

By Andy Miller, Ph.D.

As the summer winds down, many of us return to school or work with fond memories of trips to the seashore. For me and for many others, where the ocean meets the land are places that are deeply relaxing, reminders of our connections with the natural world.

Cordgrass growing across Great Marsh, Jamestown, RI.

Cordgrass growing across Great Marsh, Jamestown, RI.

For several EPA researchers, the shores and estuaries that we value for their beauty and wonder are the sites for investigating the rich and complex ecosystems that support a multitude of species and provide us with benefits well beyond a calming walk along the shore.

Researchers have recently published results of work examining how different impacts of climate change are affecting coastal ecosystems. They demonstrate how vulnerable these natural resources are to drought, sea level rise, and other impacts of a changing climate.

Several studies looked at how the effects of climate change affected cordgrass, dominant salt marsh plants that are key to the vitality of salt marsh ecosystems in southern New England coastal wetlands. One study looked at how saltmeadow cordgrass, Spartina patens, responded to drought and sea level rise in a greenhouse set up for research. This study found that sea level rise was a threat to the long-term survival of the species. The loss of saltmeadow cordgrass would reduce the wetlands’ habitat quality, plant diversity, carbon sequestration, erosion resistance and coastal protection.

A second study examined smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, under similar stresses, and also added an additional stressor, increased levels of nitrogen in the water, an environmental pollutant resulting from agricultural runoff, urban stormwater runoff, wastewater from sewers and septic systems and other sources. EPA researchers Alana Hanson and her colleagues simulated all these plant stressors in the same research greenhouse and concluded that the effects of climate change and nitrogen runoff were likely to reduce the sustainability of salt marshes because the conditions made it more difficult for cordgrass to flourish. Without cordgrass, Atlantic coastal ecosystems would be as vulnerable as a sea turtle without its shell.

On the other side of the country, researchers on the Pacific coast have been developing an approach to evaluate how climate change is affecting coastal biodiversity. Working with experts from several federal, state, and local agencies, EPA researcher Henry Lee and his colleagues developed an approach to use environmental tolerances and other scientific information to estimate how groups of species can be expected to respond to changes in ocean temperature and acidity. Their tool, the Coastal Biodiversity Risk Assessment Tool, or CBRAT, provides an open-source platform that allows researchers and resource managers to examine the potential vulnerability of coastal Pacific fish and invertebrate species as they are impacted by climate change.

These research efforts help us understand more than just the impacts of climate change on coastal ecosystems—they also help us understand how we can respond to those changes in ways that will help protect them. Francis Bacon is credited with the saying, “The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express.” Although we see the natural beauty of our coasts and shores, the best part of that beauty may well be the unseen ways in which they nurture and support nature as a whole.

About the Author: Andy Miller is the Associate Director for Climate in EPA’s Air, Climate, and Energy Research Program that conducts research to assess the impacts of a changing climate and develop the scientific information and tools to act on climate change.


Hanson, A., R. Johnson, C. Wigand, A. Oczkowski, E. Davey and E. Markham (2016). “Responses of Spartina alterniflora to Multiple Stressors: Changing Precipitation Patterns, Accelerated Sea Level Rise, and Nutrient Enrichment.” Estuaries and Coasts: 39: 1376–1385.

Watson, E. B., K. Szura, C. Wigand, K. B. Raposa, K. Blount and M. Cencer (2016). “Sea level rise, drought and the decline of Spartina patens in New England marshes.” Biological Conservation 196: 173-181.

Lee II, H., Marko, K., Hanshumaker, M., Folger, C., and Graham, R. 2015. User’s Guide & Metadata to Coastal Biodiversity Risk Analysis Tool (CBRAT): Framework for the Systemization of Life History and Biogeographic Information. EPA Report. EPA/601/B-15/001. 123 pages.

Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans


By Nicole Tachiki

At a conference on climate change adaptation, I found myself eating lunch next to the Planning Administrator of a Maryland county. She told me that her office does not have budget or staff dedicated to thinking about the impacts of climate change, so she registered for the conference to learn how to incorporate climate adaptation into her work. Although her position as the county’s planning administrator does not include a sustainability portfolio, she recognized the need to consider climate change in county plans and wanted to learn more about it.

Climate change will have an impact on communities, particularly those that are already vulnerable to coastal storms, drought, and sea level rise. Like in the Southwest, drought will only exacerbate water shortages and increase the likelihood of future wildfires. Low-income communities that lack adequate resources to prepare and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change are especially at risk.  Workbook

Because of experiences like this, I am very proud of the work that has gone into EPA’s risk-based vulnerability assessment workbook entitled “Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans.” The workbook is a step-by-step guide to conducting a risk-based vulnerability assessment and then writing an adaptation action plan. Communities can follow the workbook steps to identify their potential climate change risks and how to consider adaptation options.

Leaders of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program decided to use the workbook to identify and prioritize climate change risks to the communities surrounding the estuary in Puerto Rico. One priority for these leaders was to engage and meaningfully involve the communities that would disproportionally be impacted by the potential risks to the estuary. They held community workshops to learn about the climate change impacts people in the community were already observing. Two of their workshops were specific to environmental justice communities living around the estuary.

You can listen to the “Climate Resilience: What to Expect, How to Prepare, and What You Can Learn from Others” webcast to learn more about how the workbook has been used in a pilot project with the San Juan Bay Estuary program.

To facilitate user experience with the climate change adaptation workbook, EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries program has just released a new online companion tool to the workbook.

This new online tool enables users to enter data for the first five steps of the workbook online. After working through the steps of the online tool, users receive a formatted matrix prioritizing their climate change risks and a final assessment report with all the user input.

As I sat by the planning administrator that day at the conference, I was further inspired to continue this work as I got to meet the people for whom these resources were developed.

And, as I continue to work on resources such as the workbook and online companion tool, I gain a greater appreciation for the work being done at EPA to help environmental leaders adapt to climate change. Communities are already dealing with the impacts of climate change and they need our support and resources to help them adapt.

About the Author: Nicole Tachiki is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellow working with Climate Ready Estuaries and the National Estuary Program in the EPA’s Office of Water. In this capacity, she enjoys working to provide research and tools for climate change adaptation.

Addressing climate change and unleashing innovation with cleaner trucks

By Gina McCarthy and Secretary Anthony Foxx, Department of Transportation

In 2013, President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, a bold plan that is now on track to reduce emissions from nearly every sector of our economy.  Today, we are fulfilling one of the central promises in this plan — finalizing the second phase of greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy duty vehicles for model years 2018 and beyond.

The trucking sector is an engine of the U.S. economy. It hauls about 70 percent of all freight in this country, and is also our nation’s second largest segment of U.S. transportation in terms of emissions and energy use.

Today’s final standards will promote a new generation of cleaner and more fuel efficient trucks. That means 1.1 billion fewer tons of CO2 will be emitted into the atmosphere, and operators will save 2 billion barrels of oil and $170 billion in fuel costs. The additional cost of a new truck will be recouped within 2-4 years, saving truck owners more over the long haul.

These standards will not only benefit our climate, but also modernize America’s trucking fleet, cut costs for truckers, and help ensure the U.S trucking industry is a global leader in fuel efficient heavy duty vehicle technology. We developed the standards to allow multiple technological pathways to compliance, so that manufacturers can choose the technologies they believe are right for their products, their customers, and the market.

As with every rule, we relied on the input from the public, industry and many other stakeholders to build something that is both ambitious and achievable. More than 400 stakeholder meetings helped improve this program from the proposal: reducing more tons of pollution, strengthening compliance to ensure that the standards get real emissions reductions and improved fuel efficiency, and increasing flexibility for small businesses and manufacturers throughout the industry.  We also continued our close collaboration with our partners in California throughout the process to ensure we finalized standards that will result in a truly national program.

We’ve put in place strong engine standards, which are critical because they help ensure that manufacturers implement engine technologies that continue to improve. Our detailed technical analysis based on the most recent data shows that the required five percent efficiency improvement in diesel engines by 2027 is feasible, cost effective, and will lead to the continued carbon emissions reductions we need—millions of tons of reductions. We heard concerns about the stringency of engine standards, and we took that into account. To ensure a smooth transition, the engine standards are designed with substantial lead times, a gradual phase-in over the course of nine years, and expanded emissions credit flexibilities that allow manufacturers to tailor their own phase-in schedule. All this will enable manufacturers to develop and implement technologies that ensure reliability, and that are sound investments for the trucking industry.  And for the first time, the rules will cover trailers as well as tractors—ensuring that innovation will continue into aerodynamic features, next generation tires and other features so that trailers can contribute to fuel and emissions savings.

The rules don’t just cover line-haul trucks.  They will ensure that buses that carry school children and commuters, vehicles like snowplows, garbage trucks and delivery vans that travel our city streets, and even heavy-duty pickup trucks and large passenger vans will all be cleaner and more fuel efficient over the next decade.

Medium and heavy duty trucks help drive the American economy. Today we are ensuring that we drive down carbon pollution and save on petroleum costs from freight transport as the trucking industry continues to innovate, and to play their part in protecting the climate for future generations.

To learn more about the final heavy duty standards visit:


Building equity, inclusiveness for low-income communities is key in climate resilience planning

About the Author: Shamar Bibbins is a program officer with the Environment Program at The Kresge Foundation. Her grant work supports efforts that help communities build resilience in the face of climate change.

Activities of PUSH Buffalo, one of the 15 grantees under Kresge's Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity initiative

Activities of PUSH Buffalo, one of Kresge’s Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity grantees

As a student organizer, I saw firsthand the lack of engagement with communities of color around key environmental issues. When I began working on climate change years later, I remained guided by a deep passion to ensure that people from historically underrepresented groups were included in efforts to advance climate solutions.

Low-income communities have, historically, been largely excluded from the benefits of robust investments in clean energy, green infrastructure, high-quality transit, and other climate-beneficial interventions. Climate policies have failed to address the magnitude of environmental, economic, and social vulnerabilities these communities face.

Activities of PUSH Buffalo, one of the 15 grantees under Kresge's Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity initiative

Activities of PUSH Buffalo, one of Kresge’s Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity grantees

I believe the only way we will come close to meeting our global climate challenges is by adopting the principles of environmental justice to develop targeted strategies that address the unique circumstances of these populations. In the absence of proactive efforts to address equity concerns in climate resilience planning, climate change will reinforce and worsen current socioeconomic disparities, diminishing opportunity for low-income and other disadvantaged populations.

Over the years, the Kresge Foundation has worked in conjunction with the EPA by matching funds so that communities receive the financial assistance needed to create healthier and more environmentally-friendly neighborhoods. We are proud to support the EPA’s environmental justice mission, which strives for all communities and persons across the nation to enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process that impacts their environment.

After 25 years of working on these types of collaborative governmental/non-governmental projects, I am honored to see how these types of partnerships truly do make a visible difference in communities. This is why I have been so excited to lead the Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Initiative at the Kresge Foundation.

CRUO grantees together at The Kresge convention in Chicago

Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Initiative Grantees gather in Chicago to talk about climate resilience in low-income communities

The initiative aims to ensure that the distinct needs and interests of low-income communities are addressed in climate adaption planning. Through the initiative, we support grantee organizations in more than one dozen U.S. cities who are working to establish local and regional climate policies that meet the priorities of low-income communities.

We recently awarded $660,000, three-year grants to 15 community-based organizations to work toward incorporating strong equity provisions into local and regional climate resilience policies and programs.

Makani Themba, Advisor to CRUO talks with Chris Marchi of Neighborhood of Affordable Housing at the convening in Chicago

Makani Themba, Advisor to The Kresge Foundation’s Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Initiative talks with Chris Marchi of Neighborhood of Affordable Housing at a convening in Chicago

One of the goals of the Initiative is to systematically engage leaders and advocates who authentically represent the concerns of low-income communities and elevate their expertise on climate change. This engagement is designed to ensure that cities and municipalities adopt climate resilience plans that are more attendant to the priorities of people disproportionately harmed by climate-driven extreme events like flooding, heat waves and intense storms. These are people who have traditionally been left out of broader climate decision-making processes and we are striving to get them involved!

I am grateful to be part of a program that is building the field of climate resilience with a comprehensive, integrated approach that leads with equity. I truly believe that this new cadre of leaders who are both skilled at working in low-income communities and experts in climate resiliency will be an important step in addressing the urgent and complex environmental and climate challenges.

Activities from PUSH

Activities of PUSH Buffalo, one of Kresge’s Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity grantees