A Call to Climate Action
On June 24, more than 70 medical and public health organizations gave a call to action on climate change, according to Scientific American. Their policy agenda outlines 10 priority actions that government officials, civil leaders, and policymakers should take on climate. The rationale is that climate change is a “true public health emergency” and that such actions will result in immediate health improvements.
What are the 10 priority actions?
- Meet and strengthen U.S. commitments under the Paris agreement.
The U.S. must aggressively reduce emissions in order to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels. It must also work with international leaders to develop and support multilateral, binding commitments to do the same.
- Transition rapidly away from the use of coal, oil and natural gas to clean, safe, and renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The U.S. put a price on carbon and phase out subsidies for fossil fuels in exchange for financing the technology and infrastructure needed to transition to zero carbon emissions.
- Emphasize active transportation in the transition to zero-carbon transportation systems.
Walking, bicycling, and public transit reduce rates of injuries and non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
- Promote healthy, sustainable and resilient farms and food systems, forests, and natural lands.
In order to safeguard our food supply and our safety in the face of climate change, we must develop and encourage practices that “reduce food waste, conserve and regenerate soil, conserve and protect water, sustain fisheries, conserve productive agricultural land from urban sprawl, and protect those who grow our food.”
- Ensure that everyone in the U.S. has access to safe and affordable drinking water and a sustainable water supply.
We need water to live. Therefore, there should be regulations to prevent water contamination, along with investment in “programs for water conservation, water resources management, infrastructure maintenance, and protection from flooding or salt-water inundation.”
- Invest in policies that support a just transition for workers and communities adversely impacted by climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Green jobs builds the economic well-being of the community and improves public health. The impact on workers and communities affected by economic loss due to climate change and climate policy should be assessed and alleviated.
- Engage the health sector voice in the call for climate action.
Health sector leadership in climate communications can rally public support for meaningful action. Local and national campaigns should be implemented in order to educate the public on the health risks of climate change and the health benefits of climate action.
- Incorporate climate solutions into all health care and public health systems.
Climate-smart health care, facility resilience, and the decarbonization of the health care supply chain will protect and promote the health of hospitals and communities.
- Build resilient communities in the face of climate change.
Engage communities most affected by climate change and empower them in the decision-making process on climate action.
- Invest in climate and health.
Support local and state health departments and resilient hospital infrastructures. Fund “local, state, and national climate-health risk assessments, expanded disease surveillance systems, early warning systems, and research on climate and health. Make all data publicly available.”
What can your community do to take climate action? Let us know in the comments section.
Earls, Maya, “Major Medical Groups Release Call to Action on Climate Change,” Scientific American, June 25, 2019.
“U.S. Call to Action on Climate, Health, and Equity: A Policy Action Agenda, 2019,” Climate Health Action, June 24, 2019.