68 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT LAW & POLICY
28 For example, relocating a single 400-person Alaskan tribal village, the Vil-
lage of Kivalina, is projected to cost from 95 to 400 million dollars. See Abate,
supra note 17, at 207.
29 See M. L. PARRY, ET AL., ASSESSING THE COSTS OF ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE
CHANGE: A REVIEW OF THE UNFCCC AND OTHER RECENT ESTIMATES 31 (2009).
Hurricane Katrina reportedly caused 146 billion dollars in damage. See Hur-
ricane Sandy’s Rising Costs, NEW YORK TIMES A32 (Nov. 28, 2012). After
Hurricane Sandy, New York estimates $42 billion in damage, while New Jersey
estimates almost $30 billion. Id.
30 See generally, MATTHIAS RUTH ET AL., THE US ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF CLIMATE
CHANGE AND THE COSTS OF INACTION (2007), available at: http://www.cier.
Change%20and%20the%20Costs%20of%20Inaction.pdf. Climate mitigation
efforts, like a cap-and-trade program or carbon tax, could conceivably generate
revenue that would finance climate adaptation efforts. See RACHEL MORELLO-
FROSCH ET AL., THE CLIMATE GAP: INEQUALITIES IN HOW CLIMATE CHANGE HURTS
AMERICANS & HOW TO CLOSE THE GAP 19 (2010), available at: http://dornsife.
31 These challenges are described in more detail in the longer version of this
article. See Alice Kaswan, Domestic Climate Change Adaptation and Equity,
42 ENVIRONMENTAL LAW REPORTER 11125 (2012). Equity concerns are even more
dramatic internationally. Many poor developing countries, like small-island
states, Bangladesh, and African nations, are simultaneously the least responsible
for, but the most at risk from, global climate change. See, e.g., IPCC, Summary
for Policymakers, supra note 4, at 12 (describing high risks from sea level rise
for low-lying African and Asian deltas and for small island states). The impor-
tance of international adaptation and equity concerns does not, however, erase
the significance of addressing equity in U.S. adaptation measures.
32 See VERCHICK, supra note 6, at 106.
33 See NAT’L RESEARCH COUNCIL, supra note 7, at 29; Chen, supra note 6, at 3-5.
34 See IPCC, MANAGING THE RISKS, supra note 9, at 7, 10; USGCRP REPORT,
supra note 4, at 100-101; Verchick, supra note 6, at 38-41 (observing that the
degree of hazard a community faces is “a combination of a community’s physi-
cal vulnerability and its social vulnerability”) (emphasis in original). See gener-
ally PASTOR ET AL., supra note 13, at 2 (observing that environmental equity
focuses on both cumulative exposure and social vulnerability).
35 See DANIEL A. FARBER ET AL., DISASTER LAW AND POLICY 217 (2d ed. 2010)
(quoting PIERS BLAIKIE ET AL., AT RISK: NATURAL HAZARDS, PEOPLE’S VULNER-
ABILITY AND DISASTERS 9 (1994)).
36 See U.S. CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE PROGRAM, ANALYSES OF THE EFFECTS OF
GLOBAL CHANGE ON HUMAN HEALTH AND WELFARE AND HUMAN SYSTEMS 64 (2008)
(listing socioeconomic factors affecting vulnerability), available at: http://www.
climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap4-6/final-report/; id. at 64 (noting greater
impacts on those with lower socioeconomic status); id. at 123 (listing factors
affecting vulnerability to disasters); VERCHICK, supra note 6, at 106; BULLARD
& WRIGHT, supra note 2, at 52-54 (describing disparities in climate impacts for
disadvantaged populations). Large-scale aggregate analyses have isolated the
important role of social vulnerability as a determinant of disaster impacts. A
study of 832 floods in 74 Texas counties found a statistically significant correla-
tion between social vulnerability, as measured by racial minority or low-income
status, and flood deaths or injuries. Sammy Zahran et al., Social Vulnerability
and the Natural and Built Environment: A Model of Flood Casualties in Texas,
32 DISASTERS 552-553, 555 (2008).
37 See Alice Kaswan, Environmental Justice and Domestic Climate Change
Policy, 38 ENVTL. L. REP. 10,287, 10,289 (2008) (describing the environmental
justice movement’s distributive, participatory, and social justice goals and their
influence on the movement for climate justice); see generally LUKE W. COLE &
SHEILA FOSTER, FROM THE GROUND UP: ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM AND THE RISE OF
THE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT (2001) (describing the environmental
justice movement’s focus on distributional outcomes, participatory processes,
and institutional structures).
38 See M. L. PARRY ET AL., supra note 29, at 102-113; RUTH ET AL., supra note
30. In addition to economic considerations, avoiding harm has important social,
cultural, and psychological benefits.
39 PASTOR ET AL., supra note 13, at 30-31; VERCHICK, supra note 6, at 165.
40 See, e.g., VERCHICK, supra note 6; Craig, supra note 18.
41 See James K. Boyce, Let Them Eat Risk? Wealth, Rights and Disaster
Vulnerability, 24 DISASTERS 254, 257 (2000) (stating that “the wealth-based
approach holds that … those individuals who are willing (and, perforce, able) to
pay more, deserve to get more [disaster vulnerability reduction]”).
42 See PASTOR ET AL., supra note 13, at 7 (arguing that a market-based
approach to disaster preparedness “is a recipe for targeting those with the least
power in the social calculus”); VERCHICK, supra note 6, at 149; See Debra Lyn
Bassett, Place, Disasters, and Disability, in LAW AND RECOVERY FROM DISASTER,
supra note 6, at 51, 68.
43 See Debra Lyn Bassett, The Overlooked Significance of Place in Law and
Policy: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina, in RACE, PLACE, AND ENVIRONMENT,
supra note 23, at 49, 57; Boyce, supra note 41, at 257 (observing that relying on
individual willingness-to-pay for disaster reduction would distribute reductions
in a manner “strongly correlated with wealth”).
44 See generally PASTOR ET AL., supra note 13, at 25-27 (describing how recon-
struction programs have not been sufficient to fully address the needs of low-
income disaster victims). For example, in post-Katrina New Orleans, the Mayor
proposed that the city should decide where to invest in new infrastructure and
support rebuilding by evaluating where rebuilding was already occurring. That
approach would privilege areas where residents had sufficient resources to rebuild
and disadvantage areas where residents did not have sufficient resources. John R.
Logan, Unnatural Disaster: Social Impacts and Policy Choices After Katrina, in
RACE, PLACE, AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, supra note 23, at 249, 257.
45 See PASTOR, ET AL., supra note 13, at 11 (observing, in the environmental
justice context, that “lower-income residents may be willing to trade off health
risks for cheaper housing”).
46 See HEATHER COOLEY ET AL., SOCIAL VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN
CALIFORNIA 1 (2012); NAT’L RESEARCH COUNCIL, supra note 7, at 55; MORELLO-
FROSCH ET AL., supra note 30, at 22. The California Energy Commission
commissioned a study that not only identified 19 discrete physical and social
vulnerability factors, but evaluated their cumulative impact by creating an
overarching climate vulnerability index to score different areas of the state, and
then indicated where high social vulnerability “intersects with the most severe
projected climate change impacts.” COOLEY, supra at ii.
47 Statistical Abstract of the United States, Table 711, People Below Poverty
Level and Below 125 % of Poverty Level by Race and Hispanic Origin:
1980-2009, available at http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/
tables/12s0711.pdf (indicating that, as of 2009, African-Americans and Hispan-
ics were twice as likely as whites to be below the poverty level: over 25 percent,
in comparison with the white population’s 12.3 percent poverty rate).
48 See, e.g., PASTOR ET AL., supra note 13, at 19-21; CALIFORNIA CLIMATE
CHANGE CENTER, THE IMPACTS OF SEA-LEVEL RISE ON THE CALIFORNIA COAST 46
(2009) [hereinafter THE IMPACTS OF SEA-LEVEL RISE], available at: http://www.
(describing income- and race-based disparities in disaster preparation).
49 The Federal Emergency Management Agency has several programs that pro-
vide some resources for hazard mitigation both pre- and post-disaster, resources
that could be targeted toward the most vulnerable populations. See FEMA,
HAZARD MITIGATION GRANT PROGRAM, http://www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-
grant-program (describing). See also USGCRP REPORT, supra note 4, at 91
(describing Philadelphia’s “Cool Home Program,” which provides low-income
elderly residents with roof retrofits to cool their homes and save energy).
50 See Robert D. Bullard, Glenn S. Johnson, and Angel O. Torres, Transporta-
tion Matters: Stranded on the Side of the Road Before and After Disasters
Strike, in RACE, PLACE, AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, supra note 23, at 63, 66-67
(noting racial disparities in automobile ownership). In Hurricane Katrina, 55
percent of those who failed to evacuate did not own cars. See THE IMPACTS OF
SEA-LEVEL RISE, supra note 48, at 49.
51 See PASTOR, ET AL, supra note 13, at 23 (describing disaster studies indicat-
ing that poor and minority populations are more likely to resort to tent cities
and mass shelters); Scott Gold, Trapped in the Superdome: Refuge Becomes a
Hellhole, SEATTLE TIMES (Sept. 1, 2005) (describing horrific shelter conditions,
conditions that could deter residents from evacuating).
52 See Shonkoff, supra note 24, at S488 (observing that low-income and
of-color residents are less likely to have air conditioning); COOLEY ET AL., supra
note 46, at 6 (citing study that poor people are less likely to use air condition-
ing, even if they have it, due to financial concerns).
53 See Bullard, et al., supra note 23, at 70. Recent data suggests that, despite
some recent improvements, many states and local governments have not
adequately addressed evacuation needs for carless and special-needs popula-
tions. See Bullard et al, supra note 23, at 69, 76, and 77-78 (describing studies).
54 See BULLARD & WRIGHT, supra note 2, at 75, 98 (noting that green building
“that fails to address issues of affordability, access, and equity may open the
floodgates for permanent displacement of low-income and minority homeown-
ers and business owners”).
55 See PASTOR ET AL., supra note 13, at 11.
56 See Craig, supra note 18, at 55 (discussing possibility of mass migrations in
response to climate impacts).