Climate and health news: January 2021

  • US & Canada

5 asks of Biden Administration to improve climate & health

Photo courtesy of Pexels/Aaron Kittredge

Health care workers face unprecedented conditions as they care for patients with a novel virus while managing the fallout from historic wildfires, floods, and hurricanes. But there are common solutions to addressing both the climate and COVID-19 crises. Our recommendations for the Biden-Harris transition team represent the key actions that the new administration, as well as Congress, can take immediately to build a more resilient health care system, mitigate the carbon footprint of health care operations, contribute to a sustainable and just recovery from the pandemic, and ensure all communities are resilient to the impacts of climate change.

A sustainable, just recovery

Reducing transportation pollution in underserved communities

Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Rhode Island, and Massachusetts became the first jurisdictions to join a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program. The MOU requires at least 35% of allowance auction proceeds be reinvested in overburdened and underserved communities. Jurisdictions must also regularly monitor and report air quality in overburdened and underserved communities.

A clean, equitable transportation future

Medical students call for climate & health curricula

A recent article in Health Affairs discusses how medical students are pushing to incorporate climate and health into the core curricula. Our senior clinical advisor, Dr. Amy Collins, says “they are passionate, they’re committed, they’re visionary, they’re organized, they’re strategic. I expect them to continue to evolve and emerge as really effective national climate and health leaders.”

Medical students for a sustainable future

Tracking progress on health and climate change

The Lancet Countdown’s fifth report tracks more than 40 indicators on links between health and climate change and reveals the most concerning outlook for human health since its inception. The report illustrates no country, whether rich or poor, is immune from the health impacts of climate change and calls for aligning global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with climate action. The companion U.S. Policy Brief outlines the far-reaching and accelerated health consequences of climate change in the United States and serves as a useful resource to make the case for climate action.

Read the 2020 report

America is All In

Last month, We Are Still In launched a new national mobilization on climate action and clean recovery: America Is All In. We Are Still In launched following President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Now, the cross-sectoral coalition of subnational actors commits to work with the incoming Biden-Harris administration and federal policymakers on bold measures to address climate change. So far, a group of 1,500 leaders from communities, businesses, and institutions have joined in support, including 12 health systems representing over 300 hospitals.

Read the declaration and sign on

Tool to assess your climate risk

FEMA’s recently updated National Risk Index offers each of the nation’s 3,100 counties a look at the risks and their level of resilience to climate-related disasters and sea level rise. The update also includes an assessment of 78 socioeconomic factors and 29 social vulnerability factors. While these factors are often overlooked, they’re important indicators of how a community will be affected and how quickly they can recover. This important resource can help inform local and federal leadership in mitigating the effects of climate change and bolstering resilient communities.

What’s your county’s risk score?

Upcoming event

"Climate change & Biden's first 100 days," January 28, 3 p.m. ET - Join Health Care Without Harm and the American Sustainable Business Council for a free webinar with the newly appointed leader of the incoming Office of Domestic Climate Policy, Gina McCarthy to learn more about her role in domestic policy for the next four years.

Register today

Visit our Climate and Health program page to learn more about our work and how you can get involved. 


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