Energy & Environment

EPA finds race disparities in communities likely to suffer worst climate impacts

EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on June 3
Greg Nash

A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says Black Americans are most likely to live in areas that are projected to be hardest hit by increased deaths due to climate-driven extreme temperatures and air pollution.

The report found that in a scenario where the world reaches 2 degrees Celsius of warming compared to pre-industrial levels, Black individuals are 40 percent more likely to live in areas with the highest projected increases in premature deaths because of climate-driven temperature extremes.

They are also 41 percent more likely to live in areas with the highest projected death increase from climate-caused impacts related to a pollutant known as fine particulate matter, which can consist of dust, dirt, soot and smoke.

Overall, the report predicted that climate change would increase annual premature deaths associated with fine particulate. Specifically, it estimated 2,100 more particulate matter deaths if temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius.

The World Health Organization estimates that particulate matter is responsible for 52,000 premature deaths in the U.S. each year.

The analysis comes on the heels of a United Nations report that called for significant emissions cuts in order to evade reaching 2 degrees of warming this century.

Tags Climate change Environmental Protection Agency particulate matter Pollution vulnerable communities

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