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The Emissions Gap

By Michael Thomas

A visual essay about the inequality of carbon emissions in American homes

US homes produce a lot of emissions

Energy use in homes account for 20% of emissions in the US. If our homes were considered a country, they’d be the 6th largest emitter in the world.

But not all Americans emit equally

In America the wealthiest 10% of the population emits 3x more C02 than the poorest 10%.

In our homes this is especially true

A recent study compared the average income, home size, and emissions of various zip codes in major US cities. In Los Angeles people in the wealthiest zip code emitted 16 times more CO2 than people in the poorest.

Poor neighborhoods are hotter and
more affected by climate change

In most US cities poor neighorhoods have less vegetation and more asphalt making them as much as 6 degrees warmer than wealthier neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are disproportionately black and hispanic.

Cities trap heat making them as much as 22 degrees warmer  than surrounding areas. Today 1,300 people die from heat waves every year. By 2040, NRDC projects that number  to rise to 13,000.

Sources

The carbon footprint of household energy use in the United States (National Academy of Sciences)

Income inequality and carbon consumption (LSE)

As Rising Heat Bakes U.S. Cities, The Poor Often Feel It Most (NPR)

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