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Focus Areas

Climate Justice and Equity

Costs and benefits of climate-based policies and practices are not shared equally across different communities and populations

The benefits of a clean environment and burdens of pollution are not shared equally in society. Though we all have a vested interest in a healthy environment, not all of us enjoy meaningful involvement in its stewardship or fair treatment in its outcomes. Climate equity works to balance both access to key resources, while protecting vulnerable communities and populations from environmental hazards, regardless of race, income, or other characteristics. Policies aimed to improve the environment may distribute costs and benefits unevenly across different populations. RTI experts analyze the economic, spatial, and demographic distribution of environmental quality and economic costs of achieving it.

What is climate justice?

Climate or environmental justice is the multidisciplinary approach of studying the social, biological, and physical impacts of climate change. By researching the broader economic, spatial, and environmental impacts of climate change on specific parts of the world, RTI can help create policies aimed to improve the distribution of costs and benefits across populations. Our integrated team of climate justice and equity experts understands the engineering characteristics of a broad suite of pollutants and sources, can simulate their economic response to market and policy changes, and can model their contribution to local and regional air and water quality. The fine spatial and temporal resolution of our physical sciences work is a critical ingredient in environmental justice analyses.

Air and Water Quality Are Just a Part of the Puzzle

Understanding where and when ambient air quality conditions are poor is only part of the puzzle. Air quality affects people differently. Our team has supported nuanced epidemiological assessments of air and water pollution impacts to help quantify and value the burden of poor environmental quality. These assessments can help pinpoint hotspots of environmental burden when paired with spatially rich representations of pollution and populations. RTI’s team of flood modeling experts have also examined the intersection of flooding with populations and infrastructure, which is a key part of assessing the environmental justice impacts of climate change.

Our economists and sector experts have helped policy makers and the private sector estimate policy impacts on energy and industrial markets, the price of consumer goods, and the resulting impacts on vulnerable populations based on household incomes, expenditures, and energy burdens. RTI’s team of economic modelers support this work through sector-specific and economy-wide modeling that provides dynamic simulations of the economy with a focus on the economic well-being of different households.