Climate and Health
Figure: Health and Climate: Co-benefits. Image from the BMJ. Reference article.
Climate Action and Health Inequities
Climate change and health inequities share similar root causes: the inequitable distribution of social, political, and economic power. These power imbalances result in systems (economic, transportation, land use, etc.) and conditions that drive both health inequities and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As a result, we see communities with inequitable living conditions, such as low-income communities of color living in more polluted areas, facing climate change impacts that compound and exacerbate existing vulnerabilities. Fair and healthy climate action requires addressing the inequities that create and intensify community vulnerabilities, through strategically directing extra investments in improving living conditions for and with people facing disadvantage.
The good news is that addressing climate change represents a significant opportunity to improve public health and advance health equity. Many actions that limit climate change also improve the health of families and communities and reduce health inequities.
Climate Action Strategy
Potential Health Benefits
|Inclusive economic prosperity|
Invest in economic drivers such as schools and small businesses, sustainable and inclusive business practices, policies that reduce income inequality, fair and accountable public institutions
|Create safe, stable, living wage, green jobs|
Prioritize economically disadvantaged communities for labor and workforce development
|Reduced vehicle miles traveled (VMT)|
Active transportation (walking, biking, public transit)
|Reduce emissions through land use changes|
Transit oriented and infill development
|Reduce energy intensity in local food systems|
Buy local, farmers markets, gardens, reduce consumption of red and processed meats
|Urban and community greening|
Tree planting, parks, green infrastructure
|Reducing building energy use|
Energy efficiency, weatherization, cool roofs / green roofs, water conservation
Reference: California Department of Public Health, Climate Change and Health Equity Section (CCHES)