Since early summer, VCCA has carried out a wide range of initiatives aimed at educating health professionals and the public about the links between climate and health.
This work is happening against the backdrop of statewide elections coming up next month (November) – when all members of the state’s General Assembly are up for election or re-election.
The major announcements on climate policies with Virginia’s Governor Northam’s Executive Order that announced a reduction in the Commonwealth’s carbon emissions increase in the state’s goals to 30% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% carbon-free by 2050. Dominion Energy, the largest power supplier, also announced its intention to build the nation’s largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Virginia.
VCCA is mobilizing the health community to play a vital role in being a part of and shaping these policy developments in a way that will improve the health of our patients and our communities. See below for a summary of recent activities over the past couple of months.
Clinicians Climate Challenge
This summer, VCCA launched our Clinician Climate Challenge campaign. The primary goal of the initiative is to educate and enlist at least 150 new health professionals into our network advocating for climate change solutions that protect the health of Virginians. In order to do this, VCCA hosted an online webinar and more importantly delivered more than a dozen in-person presentations in different clinical settings – bringing the issue of climate change to the participants’ place of employment to help connect the dots.
This initiative helped expand our geographic diversity in the state and find new clinicians who will be involved with our work moving forward.
In-district August Recess Meetings
With Members of Congress in their home districts during the month of August, VCCA organized 12 separate meetings with staff from offices of Virginia-based Representatives and Senators. These meetings were held to educate Congressional staff members on climate and health and to introduce them to VCCA and the growing movement of health professionals in Virginia who are concerned about how climate change is affecting the health of their patients.
VCCA produced a PSA-style video this Summer which was released in late September. The video highlights some Virginia-specific climate and health statistics and encourages civic participation by contacting local candidates running for office this November.
VCCA worked with Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech University, and Health Care Without Harm to plan and execute a full-day conference titled “Health in a Changing Climate” in early October. The keynote speaker was the Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Health. This was the fourth conference of this kind that VCCA has organized or helped organize and it brought together more than 60 health care professionals (who received CME credit) to hear from experts on a range of climate and health topics and learn how they could take part in solutions to the health emergency caused by climate change.
Media Education/research, advocacy, and community outreach are the three pillars of VCCA’s work. Much of our community outreach efforts center around speaking out through the media. From July to September, VCCA members authored or were prominently featured in eight different media articles that can be found on our website.