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Just Climate Mitigation: An analysis of Equity and Justice in US City Climate Action Plans

Authors: Anne Short Gianotti*, Boston University, Jessica Bajada-Silva, Boston University
Topics: Environment
Keywords: climate justice, climate mitigation, cities
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Cities have been recognized as important sites of climate action for more than two decades (Bulkeley et al. 2013). Despite longstanding attention to justice issues in the international debate on climate change and a substantial body of environmental justice research indicating that vulnerable populations are disproportionately exposed to all forms of environmental pollution in and beyond the United States (Agyeman et al. 2016), little empirical research examines justice in the context of urban climate actions. This research gap is particularly pronounced for urban efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Urban climate mitigation activities will shift energy access and pricing, alter transportation systems, and impact other aspects of city life, all of which have direct and indirect implications for vulnerable populations and the distribution of city resources. In this presentation, we contribute to this research need through an analysis of the ways justice has (and had not) been articulated and integrated into climate action plans. We discuss how cities define justice with respect to climate mitigation, whose concerns and vulnerabilities are attended to, and how cities aim to address justice concerns. We argue that most cities are attentive to issues of equity and justice within their plans, yet few do so in a meaningful way that reflects the historic and structural inequalities of the city.

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