Budgetary and resource restrictions dictate that most local governments will not have specialised personnel devoted to accounting for and reducing emissions. Those governments will benefit from forming regional collaborations to aggregate their interests and share resources.
During the webinar, the panel spent some time talking about social inclusion. Could you expand on the ways in which the climate emergency intersects with social and equity issues?
Joyce Coffee: There is a differential climate vulnerability and exposure risk faced by poorer places. Internationally, the Global Adaptation Initiative's GAIN Index suggests a disproportionate risk to countries with lower economic, social and governance readiness. In the US, studies show that the poorest one-third of U.S. counties sustain greater economic hardship from hurricanes, rising seas and higher temperatures than their wealthier counterparts.
US federal disaster money favours the rich. As disaster costs rise, so does inequality. Between 1999 and 2013, in counties where federal funds were allocated after hazards had caused damages of at least US$10bn, white households gained, on average, US$126,000 in wealth. By comparison, black households lost an average of US$27,000 in wealth and Hispanic households lost US$29,000.
Government cost benefit systems also increase inequity. For instance, the US Army Corps of Engineers determines project prioritization based on the value of assets at risk. This, clearly, benefits wealthy areas.