The City of Santa Ana, California is planning to vote on a resolution declaring a climate and public health emergency. The resolution asks that the city council make a commitment to oppose fossil fuel expansion, to accelerate the use of clean energy, to support policies that will reduce lead contamination, and more.
The resolution stems from multiple sources showing that some California cities, including Santa Ana, are ill-prepared for the effects of climate change, extreme heat, and related public health concerns. One such source is the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Urban Adaptation Assessment (UAA). The UAA encompasses data from over 270 cities within the US, which allows users, like Santa Ana’s climate advocates and city leaders, to explore the connection between vulnerabilities to climate disasters, adaptive capacities, and how these are distributed within a city.
Funded by the Kresge Foundation, the UAA collates a rich dataset within a visual platform to give climate leaders the data they need to make decisions on how best to adapt and prepare. Santa Ana climate change advocates used this information in 2020 to inform community leaders, political candidates, and partners about the importance of addressing multiple environmental issues.
“The goal for the UAA was to be a tool that was user-friendly for leaders and others interested in understanding their city’s risk and readiness to climate change through 40 different indicators,” said Danielle Wood, associate professor of the practice in the College of Engineering, ND-GAIN project director at the Environmental Change Initiative, and associate director for research at the Center for Civic Innovation at Notre Dame. “We are grateful to see an example of a community organization and city leaders utilizing the UAA how it was intended and turning our data into real-world action.”
The resolution cites the UAA and how Santa Ana currently has some of the highest climate change risks and one of the lowest climate change readiness scores in the US. This was highlighted in an article in Grist and was supplemented by data from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard and Assessment’s CalEnviroScreen, which identifies California communities that are disproportionately burdened by, and vulnerable to, multiple sources of pollution.
“Local climate and environmental health advocates hope that in passing this resolution, the City of Santa Ana solidifies its commitment towards action on climate change and environmental injustice,” said Jose Trinidad Castaneda, Orange County Policy Manager for the Climate Action Campaign. “As climate change advocates, we see this resolution as a stepping stone towards strategies that will ultimately pave the way for city officials to transition to a 100% clean, renewable energy future while centering equity and building resilience in disadvantaged communities.”
ND-GAIN works to enhance the world’s understanding of climate adaptation through knowledge, products, and services that inform public and private actions and investments in vulnerable communities. ND-GAIN's annual Country Index and UAA serve as novel platforms to enable leaders to make informed decisions across critical environmental, economic, and social sectors. To learn more, please visit gain.nd.edu.
Danielle Wood / ND-GAIN Project Director
Environmental Change Initiative / University of Notre Dame
About Notre Dame Research:
The University of Notre Dame is a private research and teaching university inspired by its Catholic mission. Located in South Bend, Indiana, its researchers are advancing human understanding through research, scholarship, education, and creative endeavor in order to be a repository for knowledge and a powerful means for doing good in the world. For more information, please see research.nd.edu or @UNDResearch.