Economic Inclusion and Climate Equity

October 2012

By Ellen Kersten, UC Berkeley; Rachel Morello-Frosch, UC Berkeley; Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California; and Marlene Ramos, Columbia University

Please note: reports dated earlier than June 2020 were published under our previous names: the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) or the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII).

As local governments continue to debate how best to enact climate change policy – let alone policy that affects the most vulnerable of communities – community organizations are forging ahead with small staffs on tight budgets. From Sacramento, to Tulare, to San Diego, these groups are identifying problems and creating solutions to narrow the “climate gap.”

The “climate gap” is a situation in which low-income populations and communities of color suffer the greatest ill effects from climate change, not just internationally but also within the U.S. In a double-whammy, they are subject to the worst environmental conditions (like worse air quality) and have the highest vulnerability to extreme weather events (due to high rates of cardiovascular disease, for example).

The third in a series, Facing the Climate Gap: How Environmental Justice Communities are Leading the Way to a More Sustainable and Equitable California, showcases the work of environmental justice organizations tackling the climate gap by engaging the most vulnerable communities in the state. In this qualitative companion, we present 12 case studies that include the work of 18 community-engaged organizations.

One simple message shines through it all: the communities most affected by the climate gap are creating solutions that can and should be scaled up–which is all the more critical because of inaction at the federal level. With the future of the planet at risk, it may be time to support these efforts and forge a bottom-up approach to tackling both climate change and the climate gap.


Read our other publications by research area

    Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice

    Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.

    Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity

    In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.

    Social Movements & Governing Power

    ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.

    Publications Directory

    In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).

    The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.

    a view of the Los Angeles skyline