The Impact of CO2 Emissions and Other Environmental Issues on Poor and Low-Income Communities

During the last decade, the amount of CO2 emissions and other environmental issues has increased by nearly twenty-four percent worldwide. This increase has resulted in the loss of habitats and species and the degradation of many of the world’s most important natural resources. It has also caused problems for poor and low-income communities.

Sources

During the Industrial Revolution, human sources of carbon dioxide emissions increased significantly. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas was a major cause of increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

The main human sources of CO2 emissions include deforestation, manufacturing, and burning of fossil fuels. Some of the important natural sources of CO2 emissions include ocean release, decomposition, and deforestation.

The electric power sector accounted for 25% of US CO2 emissions in 2020. Its share of total CO2 emissions decreased in the past decade, as a result of the decline of coal use and continued shift towards non-emitting sources of electricity generation. In fact, coal’s share of the electricity mix has decreased from 55% in 2005 to 33% in the past decade.

Long-term behavior

Increasing CO2 emissions will lead to adverse changes in the climate. However, there are ways to mitigate the impact of these changes. Specifically, carbon dioxide is produced from fossil fuel combustion and forest and other land use. To mitigate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, a variety of measures are needed, from improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions from industrial and commercial activities to conserving existing forests and grasslands.

For instance, the carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels will be present in the air for decades. The average global temperature increases with CO2 emissions. Some carbon dioxide will remain in the air for centuries, while some may be in the air for millions of years. This long-term behavior is relevant to long-term climate strategies.

Impacts on poor and low-income communities

Regardless of how you measure the impact of CO2 emissions on poor and low-income communities, the results are clear: people in these areas are disproportionately affected by climate change. This means they are more vulnerable to environmental hazards, have higher rates of adverse health conditions, and take longer to recover from natural disasters. In fact, a recent study found that people living within blocks of pollution sources have significantly higher exposures to fine particulate matter (PM10) than people living elsewhere.

These disproportionate exposures are due to a combination of factors. First, the majority of people in lower-income neighborhoods have lower incomes and thus are more susceptible to pollution. Second, many of the people living in these areas have limited access to resources. Third, many lower-income households spend a larger percentage of their income on energy than higher-income households.

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Global GHG emissions grew by 24% between 2005 and 2019

During the period of 2005 to 2019, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rose by 24 percent. The rate of growth was greater in some regions than in others. Almost three-fourths of the increase in emissions was due to burning coal, the main source of fossil fuels. The other two-fourths were due to the production and use of other greenhouse gases.

Despite the rise in emissions, global GHG emissions have decoupled from economic growth. This is a significant milestone in the fight against climate change. The United States is the largest country in the world by absolute emissions. However, it is the second-largest contributor to global CO2 emissions.

In the industrial sector, emissions were 18 percent above the 2005 baseline. This is largely due to the closure of coal-fired power plants. Electric power sector emissions have decreased due to the shift from coal to natural gas. However, emissions in the residential and commercial sectors increased, likely due to building heating and cooling demands.

Impacts of climate change on women

Compared to men, women are most at risk of the adverse effects of climate change. They are more likely to experience food insecurity, reproductive health problems, mental health problems, and injuries from extreme weather. Women also face more intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, and trafficking.

Women are the primary gatherers of water. Water is essential for sustaining human life. However, climate change is changing water availability, quality, and quantity. This will disproportionately affect women and disadvantaged populations.

Women’s groups are also leading the fight against climate change. In rural Sudan, for example, women organized a farmers’ union and improved food security. Women in India are adopting sustainable practices to transform their communities.

Women are also the main consumers of environmentally-friendly products. According to research in Europe, women are more likely to endorse energy efficiency measures, recycle, and buy eco-labeled products. Women are also more likely to believe in climate science.