An Unfair Share: Exploring the Disproportionate Risks from Climate Change Facing Washington State Communities


UW Climate Impacts Group, UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Front and Centered and Urban@UW. (2018). An Unfair Share: Exploring the disproportionate risks from climate change facing Washington state communities. A report prepared for Seattle Foundation. University of Washington, Seattle.


Climate impacts or hazards, stemming from events like heat waves, floods and drought pose challenges for all Washington communities, now and in the future. However, the degree to which communities will experience these climate change-related hazards, described here as exposure, is not the same. Similarly, the extent to which communities can cope with the impacts of climate change-related hazards, described here as vulnerability, varies across communities, and even among individuals. Both exposure and vulnerability ultimately determine an individual’s or community’s level of risk. This hazard-vulnerability exposure framework is used in this report for exploring the impacts on communities from climate change-related hazards in Washington state.

The aim of this report is to support ongoing discussions regarding the climate change-related hazards facing communities in Washington, with a special emphasis on communities of color, indigenous peoples and communities with lower incomes. For climate policies and programs to effectively address existing or future inequities, there needs to be credible information about who is at risk in Washington state from climate impacts, and why. This information should clarify how communities may be exposed differently and how factors like race/ethnicity, wealth, income, level of education and health status affect the ability to cope with the impacts, or related harms. It should also highlight the types of community strengths, assets and processes that can build resilience to climate impacts.