Extreme weather events and other natural disasters this summer revealed once again how climate change is impacting the planet and harming public health. Heatwaves contributed to heat-related illnesses and deaths, wildfires caused mass evacuations and severe air quality issues, and hurricanes, tornadoes and extreme rain left many people food insecure and without shelter.

More than ever before, state and local governments need to adopt smart policies and take actions to combat climate change and build resilience. Public health professionals can play a major role in this.

Addressing climate change locally is important to public health, and studies show that marginalized groups are most likely to experience the greatest health burden from a warming planet.A woman smiles while working in a community garden

APHA’s Center for Climate, Health and Equity is active in supporting public health professionals interested in advancing climate justice. For example, the center oversees a program involving APHA’s affiliated state and regional associations, helping them organize and develop climate justice policy campaigns around inequities in their communities. An article in the November/December issue of APHA’s The Nation’s Health highlights five APHA associations that participated in a mini-grant program supported by the center’s State Partners for Climate, Health and Equity program.

In addition, thanks to the Waverley Street Foundation, the center is providing $75,000 grants to six Affiliates over three years to advocate for “Smart Surfaces,” an initiative which involves 10 U.S. cities committed to using technology to reduce surface heat and flooding. The Louisiana Public Health Association, South Carolina Public Health Association, Florida Public Health Association, Georgia Public Health Association, Oregon Public Health Association and North Carolina Public Health Association will utilize these grants over the course of two-and-a-half years to build capacity, mobilize members and community partners, and advance health equity.

Attending the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta Nov. 12-15? Join the center at the following sessions:

Session 3101, “Building Trust-Based Community Partnerships Workshop,” Monday, Nov. 13, 10:30 a.m.-noon EDT

Session 4093, “Emerging Solutions for Climate Action Centered on Health Equity,” Tuesday Nov. 14, 10:30 a.m.-noon EDT

Session 4211, “Climate Action Brings Hope: Youth Engagement in Climate Solutions That Bolster Children’s Physical and Mental Well-Being,” Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2:30-4:00 p.m. EDT

Session 4273.2, “From Combating Climate Denialism to Fighting False Solutions: The Continuing Absence of Health & Justice in Climate Policies and the Urgent Need for Change,” Tuesday Nov. 14, 4:30-6:00 p.m. EDT

Session 5064, “Reimagining the role of health departments and their partners in responding to climate change: The Building Resilience And Climate Equity (BRACE) framework,” Wednesday Nov. 15, 10:30 a.m.-noon EDT.


Photo by Nikola Stojadinovic, courtesy iStockphoto