Document Type


Publication Date



The stifling summer heat that raged across the nation was difficult for everyone, but one group had a more difficult time than others—those who could not afford to cool their homes. Disparities like these will likely only get worse. Poor communities of color that are already vulnerable and disproportionately impacted by pollution will shoulder a larger burden of climate change impacts. These neighborhoods, often called environmental justice communities, have fewer resources to adapt to the effects of climate change. More measures should be taken to increase the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency in environmental justice communities before the gap becomes worse.

New policies are needed to increase renewable energy development and energy efficiency in environmental justice communities. Current measures are insufficient to help these communities when energy prices and temperatures rise, as they are expected to. The right policies could reduce pollution in areas that are already overburdened and would provide these vulnerable communities with new economic opportunities. To develop new policies, innovative renewable energy structures including on-bill financing and a feed-in tariff should be explored. In addition, policymakers should examine the environmental tools used in settlements, mitigation measures, and pollution fees as potential areas for innovation. Finally, policymakers need to consider: how to assure benefits help the targeted community, gentrification issues, whether a separate entity can administer the program, and the potential legal implications.


Originally published by Villanova Law Review. Posted with permission.