Guide for Call to Action Op-Eds

The following is intended to serve as a guide to help you develop tailored op-eds around the The Call to Action on Climate, Health and Equity.

The guidance below will assist you in integrating key messages from the Climate, Health and Equity Policy Action Agenda into your op-ed. It also includes specific messaging you can use to highlight local trends and call on leaders in government, business and the civil sector, as well as members of Congress, to confront climate change as a health emergency. In addition, you should also consider incorporating a story around your firsthand experience with climate and health.

We encourage you to use this guidance to submit and place an op-ed around the Call to Action on Climate, Health and Equity in your local paper.

Policy Action Agenda Guidance

Key Messaging Points
Note: these are intended to be a starting point. You don’t need to include every message; prioritize the pieces that are most relevant for your organization and/or the author.

Impact of Climate Change on Health

    • Climate change is creating a public health emergency. Unless our nation’s leaders respond, and respond with urgency, health harms will dramatically increase as climate change worsens.
    • Extreme heat, powerful storms and floods, year-round wildfires, droughts and other climate-related events have already taken far too many lives and displaced tens of thousands of people in the U.S. from their homes, including here in [STATE] (if applicable).
    • People are experiencing heat illness, worsening respiratory conditions like asthma, declining mental health, and infectious and insect-borne diseases – all health impacts that are directly related to impacts of climate change, like increased air pollution, water contamination and increased heat waves.
    • Climate change threatens the very foundations of what we need to thrive: clean air, clean water, nutritious food for all and vibrant communities.
    • In [STATE], we are already seeing [insert local statistics on displaced residents, agricultural, food and water system failure, and/or mortalities from poor air or water quality].

Impact on Vulnerable Communities

    • While the health and well-being of all Americans is at risk, the health impacts of climate change are not evenly shared. Many of the most vulnerable Americans -- including pregnant women, children, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, outdoor workers, and people in low income communities and communities of color -- are most affected.
    • If you are submitting to a local paper, incorporate localized data. For the examples below, you can find your county’s total numbers of children with asthma, adults with asthma, people over 65, people with COPD, and people with cardiovascular disease at Select your state and select “groups at risk” for a county-by-county listing.
      • Children, who face special risks from air pollution because their lungs are still developing and because they are often more active outdoors.  [COUNTY]’s more than [NUMBER] children are especially vulnerable.
      • The elderly, who are at higher risk of health problems from the impact of climate change. In [COUNTY], there are [NUMBER] of elderly people, all of whom deserve protection from the harms of climate change.
      • People with chronic illness, who also risk greater harm from the impacts of climate change.  In [COUNTY], there are currently [NUMBER] people with [COPD/cardiovascular disease], which means they face greater risk.
      • In [CITY/COUNTY], [PERCENTAGE] of the population are low-income and [PERCENTAGE] are people of color. These communities often face higher exposure to dangerous pollutants, fewer options to relocate after extreme weather events, and a lack of access to resources that foster and maintain good health.
    • Policies that help reduce climate change will directly benefit these communities.The voices, power and capacity of these communities must be engaged in full partnership as these policies are implemented to build a healthy and climate-resilient future.

Climate, Health and Equity Policy Action Agenda

  • Mobilizing for policy action now will determine the magnitude of climate impacts on future generations. The health sector is taking action to promote and protect health in the era of climate change, but we cannot do it alone.
  • The Climate, Health and Equity Policy Action Agenda, endorsed by [NUMBER] organizations representing more than half a million doctors, nurses, health systems, public health professionals, and patients, provides a roadmap for local, state and national leaders to act now to stop climate pollution, promote resilient communities, and support the health of all Americans.
  • As a health leader(s), we are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in health facilities (if applicable), integrating climate risks into our preparedness plans and policies, and communicating the health threats of climate change.

Your Call to Action: Our nation’s leaders in government, business and the social sector need to recognize climate change as a health emergency and take steps to combat it

  • To promote better health and wellbeing, and to protect human health from the ravages of climate change now and into the future, I/we call on our nation’s leaders in government, business and the civil sector,  including [INSERT ELECTED OFFICIALS] here in [STATE], to heed the urgent call of health professionals and health organizations by immediately beginning to take steps to limit climate disruption and build climate resilience.
    • We call on our leaders to make health integral to climate policymaking at all levels of government, business and the social sector.
    • We urge our leaders to support and adopt policies that strengthen commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, transition rapidly away from the use of coal, oil and natural gas, and transition to zero-carbon transportation systems.
    • We must promote healthy, sustainable farms and food systems, and ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water.
  • Action taken now can and will help prevent the worst impacts of climate change, have a direct impact on our most vulnerable communities, and protect the health of all families. We cannot wait any longer.

Climate, Health and Equity Policy Action Agenda - Template Letter to the Editor

Below is a template Letters to the Editor for a health or medical professional to tailor and submit to media outlets around the “Climate, Health and Equity Policy Action Agenda.” For smaller papers, you most likely do not need to respond to a specific story; however, this is often required for larger daily papers.

Keep in mind that word count limits may vary paper to paper, so check your paper’s website to see if they have set guidelines. If there aren’t any guidelines, aim to keep the LTE at 200 words or less.

LTE Template (intended to be authored by a health professional)

Every day, I see the toll climate change is taking on the health, safety and well-being of my patients. The impacts are debilitating, from heat illness and worsening respiratory conditions like asthma or COPD, to declining mental health and insect-borne disease.

In my firsthand experience, I see the way [INSERT DETAILS OF YOUR FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE OF WHAT YOU’VE SEEN IN YOUR OWN PATIENTS]. What’s more, climate change poses an even greater threat to the health of more vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, children and the elderly.

As we continue to see the impacts of climate change, including worsening heat waves, wildfires, and air pollution, our already-urgent public health emergency will only become more serious. And the health sector cannot tackle it alone.

To respond, I am standing alongside [NUMBER]+ organizations representing doctors, nurses, health systems, public health professionals and patients to call on our leaders in government, including [LOCAL MEMBERS OF CONGRESS], as well as the business and the social sector, to immediately take steps outlined in The Call to Action on Climate, Health, and Equity that will limit climate disruption, build climate resilience, and protect health. Waiting to act is simply not an option.

 Thank you to the American Lung Association for your help in developing these talking points.