PHI Climate Change and Health Policy Platform

Ratified January 2014

The Public Health Institute considers climate change to be one of the greatest global and domestic public health challenges of the 21st century. The health impacts of climate change affect all, disproportionately affect the vulnerable and disadvantaged, and threaten the systems on which human life depends – our air, water, food, shelter, and security. Climate change and strategies to address it directly or indirectly impact virtually all of the fundamental determinants of population health. Aggressive action on climate change is critical and urgent. PHI supports efforts that reduce long-term climate change, promote climate resilient communities, protect all people from the health impacts of climate change, and optimize health and health equity outcomes and co-benefits.*

Guiding Principles

PHI’s efforts to address the health implications of climate change will be guided by core principles to protect health, equity and sustainability, and ensure the greatest near- and long-term benefits:

  • Substantial and timely action to mitigate climate change.
  • Promotion of gender equity, health equity, social justice, environmental justice and human rights.
  • Community involvement in decision-making.
  • Resource allocation for overburdened and vulnerable communities.
  • A just transition – support for workers, communities and nations impacted as economies and industries shift to address climate change, and as ecologies are reshaped by it.
  • Maximize health, environmental and economic co-benefits.
  • Demonstration of US leadership through significant action to mitigate and address climate change.
  • Promotion of “Health in All Policies” approaches.

Policy Priorities

  1. Require urgent and substantial reductions to greenhouse gas emissions, short- and long-term, across sectors (e.g. energy, transportation, food and agriculture sectors).
  2. Promote reduction of the systems that produce the sources of greenhouse gases (e.g. extraction of fossil fuels, expansion of unsustainable food systems).
  3. Strengthen the public health role and involvement in climate change action, including mitigation, adaptation and resilience.
  4. Promote climate change strategies that support equitable global and community development goals.
  5. Promote strategies to address climate change that optimize for health, equity, and well-being.
  6. Address the impacts of climate change on those natural and human systems upon which human health depends (e.g. air quality, water quality and quantity, food systems, weather systems, sea level).
  7. Promote community environments that simultaneously support health, and climate change mitigation and resilience (e.g. active transportation, walkability, urban greening).
  8. Promote adaptation planning and community resilience that incorporate health and health equity.
  9. Promote sustainable, healthy sequestration strategies across sectors (e.g. sustainable agriculture and food systems, urban greening).
  10. Promote strong international agreements that address climate change, health and equity.
  11. Strengthen public health capacity, infrastructure and resources (including funding) to prevent and prepare for the impacts of climate change on health.
  12. Build the evidence base through research, monitoring, surveillance, and pilot projects to evaluate the health implications of climate change and identify climate change solutions that optimize health.
  13. Require local, state, national and international governments to integrate health, equity and sustainability into decision-making processes, planning documents, guidelines, funding formulas and certification requirements across policy arenas.

*”Co-benefits” refers to benefits from an action, beyond the direct benefits of addressing climate change itself.