Climate Change and Environmental Justice: Considerations for Transportation Decision-making

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) produced this overview describing how the impacts of climate change in the transportation sector can disproportionately affect environmental justice (EJ) communities.  The report recommends considerations for transportation providers to ensure that climate adaptation measures do not exacerbate these impacts. The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) policy statement on climate change previously specified that USDOT will address inequalities and EJ issues related to climate change and adaptation efforts.

Review lessons on how to improve transportation planning processes to better take into account the needs of frontline communities in your community. 

Climate change and extreme weather events can damage and disrupt transportation systems, which can result in disproportionate impacts for EJ communities. For example, lower-income families without access to a car will be more affected when public transportation systems are disrupted by extreme weather events, which can affect their ability to evacuate during hurricanes or other disasters. The document provides recommendations for how state departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) can help reduce negative impacts of climate change for EJ communities, and at the same time ensure that strategies to both mitigate and adapt to climate change benefit EJ communities.

The document recommends more inclusive stakeholder engagement in federally-mandated processes such as long-range transportation planning and project development to ensure that the interested of EJ populations are represented. FHWA identifies resources to help state and regional transportation agencies with incorporating climate change considerations in these processes, such as the FHWA Climate Change Adaptation Framework, and cites to several of the state and regional FHWA-funded climate resilience pilot projects that included social equity considerations. The document also includes recommendations for improving emergency operations plans to ensure that they consider needs of all segments of the population, including those with disabilities, limited English proficiency, low-income populations, and minority populations.


Publication Date: June 2016

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  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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