2021 Climate Adaptation Action Plan - U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Posted on: 12/21/2021 - Updated on: 7/01/2022

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In recent years there has been a significant increase in weather-related events worsened by the changing climate. These events include record-breaking heat waves, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, droughts, and increasingly severe storms. These and other consequences of climate change affect people’s health in different ways, from direct exposure to heat and floodwaters, to increased risk of certain infections as the life cycles of ticks and mosquitoes change. Severe and repeated weather-related disasters also contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health impacts.

Although the climate crisis affects everyone, those most susceptible include communities of color, older adults, children, pregnant persons, people with lower incomes, those who live or work in areas with greater exposure, as well as people with pre-existing physical, behavioral, or chronic health conditions. Existing health disparities are likely to be exacerbated. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to protecting the health of all Americans by integrating environmental justice and equity into our work. Effective action to build resilience to climate change related health threats is essential to fulfilling the HHS mission to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans.

Executive Order 14008 (EO14008), Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, sets forth a government-wide approach to address the climate crisis. It established a National Climate Task Force (Task Force) charged with facilitating the organization and deployment of this approach. Its members include Cabinet secretaries, agency heads, and White House advisors. The EO also sets forth numerous directives to integrate climate considerations into foreign policy, federal government property, asset management, procurement, infrastructure investment, and resource management. Additionally, the EO establishes a policy of achieving environmental justice to address the disproportionately high and adverse human health, environmental, climate-related, and other cumulative impacts on disadvantaged communities.

This Climate Action Plan (CAP) represents a concerted effort to enhance resilience and adaptation to climate change throughout the activities of HHS. Building on and expanding previous agency climate action plans, this document represents initial steps in working across the different divisions and individual regions of HHS to identify and implement critical actions to protect the health of all Americans from climate change-related threats.

Also, to ensure the continuity of operations of HHS facilities in the face of extreme weather events, and foster healthy greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and resilience efforts in the health sector and communities. This CAP also strives to assure that individuals and communities at greatest risk from climate change related threats, including low-income communities and communities of color, receive the resources necessary to achieve resilience and protect public health.

The EO-mandated plan requirements include developing agency policy, identifying an agency champion to lead the efforts, bolstering adaptation, increasing resilience across agency programs, and committing to initial actions.

There are many concurrent activities underway across the federal government that may intersect with efforts to address climate change. These include EOs and other initiatives on topics such as equity, America’s supply chain, and evidence-based policymaking. The implementation of these initiatives, along with the maturation of efforts described in the CAP, may create opportunities to develop additional synergistic action steps to address climate change. Therefore, this document is considered an initial step in a process that will evolve in subsequent years, as these related efforts mature.


2021 Climate Action Plan. 2021. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.sustainability.gov/pdfs/hhs-2021-cap.pdf

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It is the mission of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans. We fulfill that mission by providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services.

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