International Bachelor of Science - Human Geography
Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities
Dr Natascha Klocker and Dr Chris Brennan-Horley
Cooper, Nathan, Exploring ethnicity, socio-economic status and the distribution of airborne emissions in Sydney, Australia,
International Bachelor of Science - Human Geography,
Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities,
University of Wollongong, 2015.
Racism and the ways in which it operates are important areas of research in ethnically diverse societies, such as Australia. While much attention has been given to the outcomes of systemic racism in Australian health and criminal justice systems, minimal attention has been given to systemic racism operating through exposure to environmental hazards. This research area, known as ‘environmental racism’, has received substantial attention in the US and elsewhere. Using 2011 Census data and 2011/12 National Pollutant Inventory data, this study aimed to address this paucity of research by investigating the correlations between ethnicity and exposure to airborne emissions in Greater Sydney. The influence of other population variables, particularly socio-economic status, on correlations between ethnicity and exposure to pollution was also examined. Furthermore, the influence of varying scale, population estimation methods and pollution measures were investigated. The study found that the ethnic majority (Anglo-European/‘white’ Australians) are least likely to live in areas with exposure to airborne emissions. By contrast, ethnic minority migrants are most likely to live in areas exposed to high levels of airborne emissions. These findings are partly a result of the relationships between ethnicity and socio-economic status, but this is subject to the scale and population estimation methods adopted. The study demonstrates the presence of racial hierarchies in Greater Sydney operating through racially differential exposure to airborne emissions. Furthermore, this study makes an important methodological contribution by demonstrating the importance of accounting for the influence of scale and population estimates in future environmental racism studies.