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Don’t Blame it on the Sunshine! An Exploration of the Spatial Distribution of Heat Injustice Across Two Antwerp City Districts
10.3390/IFOU2018-05967
Abstract:

Many global cities experience temperature differences on a micro-scale across urban areas due to Urban Heat Islands, revealing deeper climate injustice as many socially and economically marginalized communities are more likely to live in warmer neighborhoods. These areas often have less access to cooling features, like green spaces, which improve climatic conditions. Many local governments lag behind in recognizing the unequal vulnerability of certain populations or taking steps to mitigate injustices related to green space planning. We created and tested a Heat Injustice Scale model to explore how different areas of the city face spatial disparities in heat vulnerability and heat resilience as a result of green space planning. Drawing on critical urban theory and environmental justice, we seek to uncover the processes of neoliberalism and social exclusion that drive spatial heat injustices, and explore how resident perceptions of right to the city and climate resilience align with the reality of climate change. The Scale incorporates GIS data, ground-truthing surveys, and stakeholder perception-based mapping, a novel approach to measure climate resilience and mechanisms of heat injustice. Findings from a preliminary study within two districts of Antwerp, Belgium indicate an unequal distribution of cooling features according to size, proximity, and quality; but moreover, revealed the reality that local residents in all districts – particularly those with lower social capital -- are systematically disadvantaged by and dissatisfied with municipal green space planning. Through future research, we hope to provide an interactive, participatory platform for residents and city planners that will illustrate areas of heat vulnerability and resilience in the city utilizing the Heat Injustice Scale, and incorporate resident narratives on accessibility to cooling features to highlight heat-related planning issues. This research contributes to both the “Climate Resilient Governance and Planning” and “Urban Design and Management: Infrastructures and Services.”

Keywords: urban heat; climate resilience; heat vulnerability; heat injustice; GIS; green planning
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