Understanding community vulnerability is critical to advancing climate justice

A destabilized climate is exacerbating the severity of extreme weather events, worsening infectious and chronic diseases, and intensifying social and economic stresses. Some U.S. communities have access to resources that help them prepare, endure, and recover from these impacts. Many do not.

Decades of racist housing and infrastructure development, unequal protection of environmental laws, labor market discrimination, and other systemic issues have created disparities and disadvantages across America – making it harder to withstand the devastating effects of climate change.

Visualizing climate injustice across America

With support from many partners, Environmental Defense Fund and Texas A&M University developed the most thorough and complete compilation of climate impacts at the census-tract level. The new U.S. Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) visualizes how drivers of cumulative vulnerability disadvantage communities across the U.S. Better understanding of the intersections between growing climate risks and pre-existing, long-term health, social, environmental, and economic conditions is critical to effectively deploying targeted adaptation efforts and building climate resilience for everyone.

Combining 184 indicators, this mapping tool integrates the conditions that can shape a community — from quality of housing and access to supermarkets to proximity to toxic waste sites. Equipping policymakers and communities with the data they need to take action, allocate funding, and advocate for changes they want to see in their own communities can limit the growing dangers from climate change.

Learn more

Visit the CVI at climatevulnerabilityindex.org to explore — through real-life examples — how community advocates can use our data to help make communities more resilient in the face of climate change with resources from recent legislation. Additionally, the CVI site features a comprehensive list of funding opportunities, plus user-friendly tutorials.

"The Climate Vulnerability Index can empower communities and policymakers to better prioritize resources and target interventions, providing a template for addressing local-scale climate and environmental justice globally."

Grace Tee Lewis, Senior Health Scientist, EDF

For more information, read our published research paper, Characterizing vulnerabilities to climate change across the United States. For inquiries and feedback, please email to CVI@edf.org.