Climate Change, Health, and Equity: A Guide for Local Health Department
Local public health departments (LHDs) across the United States are working proactively to address health inequities, an endeavor that requires intentional change in public health practice. While the services that public health provides to individuals in communities remain vitally important, local health departments are broadening their scope to support systems change across the many sectors that shape community environments (such as transportation and land use, agriculture and food, and criminal justice systems) and the economic, physical, and social conditions in which we live, work, learn, and play. LHDs are also beginning to address the historical and structural determinants of health (such as racism, power, and disenfranchisement) that have led to and reinforce persistent inequities.
Now, public health needs to apply this expanded scope to climate change. Our actions now will determine the magnitude of future impacts, how quickly they occur, and the extent to which our communities can thrive in the face of climate change.
Every local health department is different in size, structure, geographic location, community and political context, and capacity, and there is no “one size fits all” approach to the integration of climate change into LHD practice.
This Guide connects what we know about climate impacts and climate solutions with the work of LHDs, and provides examples of how LHDs can put climate change into public health practice. The Guide is neither a step- by-step “how to” nor a comprehensive catalog of how to address climate change. It is intentionally redundant so that readers can access information from various entry points based on their roles and interests. We hope the Guide will help you integrate climate change into the public health practice of your LHD.