Taking on Climate Change Without Wrecking Cities for the Poorest and Most Vulnerable

Rebuilding and repairing New York City after Hurricane Sandy shows how climate change can exacerbate existing equity problems and that such disasters must spur efforts to rebuild fairly, not entrench existing problems.

1 minute read

November 28, 2016, 10:00 AM PST

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark

Climate Change

Alexander Erdbeer / Shutterstock

Michelle Chen investigates the ongoing rebuilding process in New York City and the surrounding areas after Hurricane Sandy in a piece for The Nation. She talks about how efforts in the city are focused, not only on immediate repairs but also, "To safeguard cities from future disasters, cities need to improve infrastructural protection and promote ecologically conscious urban planning. Locally this means creating resilient local food, transit and energy systems that are responsive to global environmental pressures and accountable to local communities," Chen argues.

Strengthening the city is, however, only one piece of the work, another is ensuring that those most vulnerable to such disasters don't have their existing problems redoubled by the cities efforts. "New Orleans represents the nightmare scenario of a city that has struggled to implement economic- and environmental-justice measures after environmental disaster left poor communities of color displaced, exposed to economic exploitation, and politically marginalized in the rebuilding efforts," Chen writes.

These considerations will apply to issues all over the world. "On a global scale, both adaptation and mitigation are twin pillars of the Paris climate treaty, but the question of economic fairness looms large over both." 

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