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Could Adapting for Climate Change Make Inequality in Cities Worse?

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Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh during a session on how communities can use technology to grow and thrive.

In Mayor Marty Walsh’s new capital plan for large investments by the city of Boston, at least 10 percent of spending will go toward prepping parks and infrastructure for the effects of climate change.

The city’s resilience initiatives are wrapped in the language of equity—in Walsh’s words, representing “Boston’s historic commitment to our collective well-being.”

But some experts worry the push for climate adaptation could make inequality worse, a possible multiplier of the so-called “green gentrification” they say is already underway in two neighborhoods at the center of the city’s climate resilience strategy: East Boston and South Boston.

A Beacon of Resilience—but for Whom?

A short walk from the JFK MBTA station in Dorchester—surrounded on two sides by a neighborhood that includes roughly 2,000 units of public housing—Moakley Park is a jewel in the Emerald Necklace network of green spaces.

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