The Climate Gap: Inequalities in How Climate Change Hurts Americans & How to Close the Gap

By now, virtually all Americans concur that climate change is real, and could pose devastating consequences for our nation and our children. Equally real is the “Climate Gap” – the sometimes hidden and often-unequal impact climate change will have on people of color and the poor in the United States.

This report helps to document the Climate Gap, connecting the dots between research on heat waves, air quality, and other challenges associated with climate change. But we do more than point out an urgent problem; we also explore how we might best combine efforts to both solve climate change and close the Climate Gap — including an appendix focused on California’s global warming policy and a special accompanying analysis of the federal-level American Clean Energy Security Act.

City of Benicia Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan


94510 Benicia , CA
United States
38° 2' 57.714" N, 122° 9' 30.8808" W
California US

Benicia is a waterfront community in the San Francisco Bay Area. The city is home to a thriving arts community, beautiful weather and scenic vistas, a downtown full of charming boutiques and antique shops, and an industrial park and port that provide jobs to Benicia residents. However, all of this is threatened by the impacts of future climate change. Sea level rise, storm surge, and extreme temperatures are projected to increase significantly over the coming decades.

Adapting to Climate Change in California

Many aspects of the Californian approach to controlling the greenhouse gases that cause climate change now have a sufficient track record to provide potential models or lessons for national and even international action. In comparison, the state's efforts on climate change adaptation, although multifaceted, are less well developed and thus far have focused largely on information sharing, impact assessments, and planning. Still, adaptation could advance more quickly in California than in many other regions, given relatively high public awareness and concern, extensive scientific information, a strong tradition of local and regional planning, and some enabling policies and institutions. Much more political support and sufficient financing will have to be mustered at state and local levels to enable new projects and initiatives to cope with sea level rise, water management, and ecosystem adaptation, not to mention public health and other key areas of concern. Even so, California's initial efforts to adapt to unavoidable changes in climate may offer insights for other governments that will, inevitably, need to fashion their own adaptation strategies.

Town of Guilford Community Coastal Resilience Plan

Coastal resilience is the ability to resist, absorb, recover from, and adapt to coastal hazards such as daily  inundation caused by sea level rise, increased flooding, and more frequent and intense storm surges. The residents of Guilford recognized the risks associated with occupying coastal areas prior to Tropical Storm Irene and storm Sandy, but these recent events have underscored the fact that property owners and the town bear a heavy financial burden to recover from these types of events. The Town of Guildford has developed this Community Coastal Resilience Plan as a toolbox to build coastal resilience in the coming years.

Resilient Monroe Resource Atlas


United States
41° 54' 59.1624" N, 83° 23' 51.756" W

Resilient Monroe is a land-use planning and community design project in southeast Michigan sponsored by the City of Monroe, Frenchtown Charter Township and Monroe Charter Township. Together, these three local governments are planning for successful, resilient community adaptation to the social, environmental and economic challenges presented by climate change.

Climate Change Adaptations for Land Use Planners

Most scientists now agree that climate change, i.e., global warming, is occurring at a rate much faster than the normal climatic cycles, due to anthropogenic causes of greenhouse gases. Because global warming is changing the ocean currents and wind patterns, climate is changing world-wide. Some of these changes are beneficial, such as a longer growing season for farmers; however, most are harmful. The negative impacts include more frequent and severe weather extremes, such as more intense storms and droughts, more variability in weather, and sea level is rising, putting coastal communities at greater risk. Such climate changes are expected to increase in the foreseeable future; and Land Use Planners need to be prepared for the impacts on their communities. While there are many ways to help mitigate climate change, mainly through reduction in greenhouse gas production, our study is concerned with adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change.


This project is intended to provide an understanding of climate change impacts on land uses, and the tools that can be used to assess these impacts and adapt to them. While Land Use Planners deal with municipal land use issues, they receive engineering input from municipal engineers and outside consultants. Thus, the more technical tools in this project are intended for use by engineers and scientists assisting Land Use Planners.

This document is a simplified summary of the main report, which contains an explanation of the tools methodology, as well as additional details on the topics in each chapter.

Keene, New Hampshire Climate Adaptation Action Plan Summary Report

The City of Keene is already practicing many climate protection strategies. Much of this document lays the foundation for Keene to move forward with a public process and further refinement of its climate change and overall sustainability goals. Another important process Keene is preparing for is a comprehensive master plan update, wherein the community, City, and other local and regional stakeholders will play a major role in setting the course for Keene’s future. This document should be utilized in that process and incorporated accordingly into the comprehensive master plan in order to coordinate policy, make land use decisions, identify capital improvement projects, and establish funding priorities. It provides the framework to ensure current—and future—preparedness strategies in the face of climate change.

Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2008

Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world and will become even more so as a result of climate change. Floods, tropical cyclones, storm surges and droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe in the coming years. These changes will threaten the significant achievements Bangladesh has made over the last 20 years in increasing incomes and reducing poverty, and will make it more difficult to achieve the MDGs.

How to Scale Out Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change

This report explores the ‘scaling out’ of CBA pilots, which is defined as ‘more quality benefits to more people over a wider geographical area, more equitably, more quickly, and more lastingly’. Rather than higher-level policy integration, it focuses on how multiple local actors can pilot small-scale innovations and showcase them until their approaches are replicated by multiple local actors, and a particular technology, practice or local regulatory approach becomes widespread.

The working paper identifies several key elements that are common to successful cases of scaling out. Learning from CDKN’s work in Bangladesh, Colombia and eastern and southern Africa regions, it provides insights into the role of:

  • networks and partnerships
  • documenting evidence and learning
  • adaptive capacity
  • institutional channels and finance mechanisms

Close to Home: Subnational Strategies for Climate Compatible Development

The authors explore the many successful strategies and measures for climate resilience and low carbon development that communities and leaders have pursued at the subnational level.  They draw on the rich and practical experiences of CDKN’s project partners and the broader ICLEI network.They argue that the battle for climate compatible development will be won or lost in provinces, districts and cities.  There are distinct challenges at subnational level – for example, future climate data for local and subnational levels is more uncertain than at larger scales, and subnational decision-makers face intense local pressure to act on the negative impacts of climate extremes and disasters. There are also unique opportunities. Subnational decision-makers often have a sound understanding of climate trends in their area, based on first-hand experience and local and indigenous knowledge. They have a good sense of solutions that are effective in the local context and they have the ability to mobilise local resources for implementation, including people’s time and knowledge.

Effective strategies for subnational climate compatible development respond to these challenges and build on these opportunities. Such strategies:

  • use flexible modes of decision-making available at the subnational level to go beyond national mandates for climate compatible development and to innovate solutions.
  • raise the awareness of climate ‘champions’ in subnational government and bolster their climate leadership.
  • build a strong case for action through effective, locally relevant communications about climate change impacts and the benefits of low-carbon, climate-resilient development.
  • mobilise local expertise and support including in-kind resources, and forge alliances among civil society, businesses, researchers (including climate scientists), government decision-makers and civil servants.
  • secure additional resources from outside the locality where necessary.

CDKN’s and ICLEI’s programme experience demonstrates that these strategies yield promising results at the subnational level. However, the scale of the global climate challenge is huge. Alone, individual subnational initiatives do not achieve enough. It will take a global transformation in the way that society approaches development if we are to achieve a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. Successful subnational climate compatible strategies must be rapidly scaled up and scaled out to meet this challenge.