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Climate Change & Health Equity Program (CCHEP)

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Addressing climate change represents a significant opportunity to improve public health and advance health equity.

Climate Change & Health Equity

The Climate Change and Health Equity Program (CCHEP) embeds health and equity in California climate change planning, and embeds climate change and equity in public health planning. CCHEP works with local, state, and national partners to assure that climate change mitigation and adaptation activities have beneficial effects on health while not exacerbating already existing unfair and preventable differences in health status of some groups (health inequities). CCHEP implements California’s climate change laws and executive orders, contributing health equity considerations.

Climate Action and Advancing Health Equity

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 CCHEP provides health equity input into California’s plans for transportation, housing, land use planning, and other systems that affect both health outcomes and vulnerability to climate change impacts. 


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 Co-Benefits

Reduced vehicle miles traveled (VMT)
Active transportation (walking, biking, public transit)

  • ​Increase physical activity
  • Improve mental health
  • Reduce chronic disease
  • Reduce air pollution

Reduce emissions through land use changes
Transit oriented and infill development

  • ​Increase physical activity
  • Increase access to services
  • Reduce chronic disease
  • Enhance safety
Reduce energy intensity in local food systems
Buy local, farmers markets, gardens, reduce consumption of red and processed meats
  • ​Increase access to healthy and fresh foods
  • Reduce air pollution
  • Increase resilience
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Increase social cohesion
​​Urban and community greening
Tree planting, parks, green infrastructure
  • ​Reduce temperature and urban heat island effects
  • Reduce air pollution
  • Reduce noise
Reducing building energy use
Energy efficiency, weatherization, cool roofs / green roofs, water conservation
  • ​Reduce energy costs
  • Create local green jobs
  • Promote healthy homes
  • Promote cooler communities


Climate Change and Health Impacts

Climate change-related health impacts can include increased number of cases of heat-related illness and death, more air pollution-related exacerbations of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, increased injury and loss of life due to severe storms and flooding, increased occurrences of vector-borne and water-borne diseases, and stress and mental trauma from loss of livelihoods, property loss, and displacement (see Figure 1 below).

Diagram showing impact of climate change on human health and exacerbation of existing inequities

 Figure 1. Impact of Climate Change on Human Health and Exacerbation of Existing Inquities (Adapted from CDC, J. Patz).

 

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