Consortium Applauds House Report: ‘Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy and Just America’
June 30, 2020
Last year, the Consortium and 152 other major health organizations declared climate change a public health emergency and offered a plan for addressing the climate crisis. The endorsers of that plan are medical, nursing, and public health associations and schools, and 500 hospitals (climatehealthaction.org). Our 10 point plan offers a road map for addressing the climate crisis and benefiting health. We know that the conditions created by climate change are making people sick, so climate solutions are health solutions. Many of the recommendations we shared a year ago are now a part of the Select Committee report (public health is specifically addressed in Pillars 1, 6, and 7 of the 12-Pillar roadmap).
As the country heads into another summer of unprecedented heat, torrential rains, stronger storms, and sudden wildfires, physicians across the country are already on heightened alert for the health conditions related to these conditions that will affect the people and communities they care for. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided additional evidence of the harms that are caused by carbon particle pollution because there are more deaths in places where people are breathing dirtier air. Many of the places with dirtier are urban areas where more African Americans and other minorities are living which has placed them at greater risk of death from COVID-19.
Time is running out. Thousands of lives are lost annually in the U.S. because of carbon pollution. Doctors across the country have directly observed health harms in their patients due to poor air quality, heat, fires, and storms that are the result of carbon pollution and the warming of the planet. While everyone is at risk because of climate change, some people are at greater risk. Children are at greater risk because they breathe faster and spend more time outside. Pregnant women face greater risk to their pregnancies because premature labor and small babies are more likely with exposure to air pollution, to heat, and to direct fumes. Older people are at greater risk and so are people who have underlying health conditions like lung or heart disease or diabetes. And people of color are at greater risk across all of these other factors because of environmental, economic, and racial injustice.
The results of a new national survey show that, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, voters want climate action as part of the economic recovery plan and are more likely to vote for candidates that support renewable energy. The House Climate Crisis Action Plan is in step with America as it seeks to advance economic and environmental justice for all and is focused on healthy transitions both for those who are facing poor health outcomes right now and those who are facing economic dislocation as we build the clean energy economy. Through American innovation, we can achieve an economy with net-zero carbon pollution by 2050, and net negative pollution thereafter — a goal that will be necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The good news is that we will reap the benefits of a healthier population and a more equitable society every step of the way.
The time is now for everyone to listen to the growing demands for climate action that will deliver a healthier and more just America.