MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative: Climate Gentrification

Climate change’s devastating environmental effects are well-documented: rising temperatures, droughts, altered ecosystems and agricultural supply, melting glaciers.

It also affects real estate markets, in the form of climate gentrification. The concept was first identified through research from Harvard University, stating that climate change can impact property values. As as developers snap up property in newly desirable areas, they will likely drive up prices and displace longtime residents.

This effect is especially acute in Miami, which is vulnerable to sea-level rise, and was used as a case study by the Harvard researchers. Here, lower-income residents tend to live in high-elevation areas, while waterfront property is prime. Not for long, though, as tides rise and waterfront homes could be compromised. Soon, long-forgotten areas could become a hot commodity.

In February, the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan leadership team, along with 15 advisory board members, traveled there for a weekend retreat. They spent the day with activists from Little Haiti, one of the city’s fastest gentrifying areas. On an afternoon trip to the Everglades, they learned firsthand about climate-driven inequality.

Read more about climate gentrification and our recent trip to Miami here.