Climate Change and Health Equity Actions

Established in 2021, the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity addresses the impact of climate change on the health of the American people. Exercising powers of convening, coordination and collaboration, the Office serves as a department-wide hub for climate change and health policy, programming, and analysis, in pursuit of environmental justice and equitable health outcomes.

The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity is pursuing three broad goals:

  • Protecting the health of all people in the United States from the impacts of climate change, especially those most vulnerable.
  • Enhancing the sustainability and climate resilience of the United States’ health systems.
  • Addressing underlying health disparities by identifying and promoting ways in which actions to address climate change can also improve social determinants of health

Domestic Actions with International Impact

  • COP26 Commitments: The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity is heading the implementation of HHS commitments made through the COP26 Health Programme to resilience in our communities and decarbonization in our health systems.
  • Health Care Sector Climate Pledge: The HHS Health Care Sector Pledge invites organizations to commit to lowering their greenhouse gas emissions and building more climate resilient infrastructure. The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity has compiled federal supports and tools for health sector organizations looking to decarbonize and invest in resiliency.

Department-Wide Coordination

  • Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan (CARP): The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity is contributing to the HHS Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan by convening an HHS-wide Climate and Health Equity Working Group that coordinates efforts to enhance resilience and adaptation to climate change throughout the activities of HHS.

Federal Coordination

  • Extreme Heat Interagency Working Group, Co-Chair: Formed by the White House Climate Policy Office in July 2021 and co-led by the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Working Group will continue to regularly convene agencies to communicate, coordinate, and improve federal efforts to build resilience to the threats posed by extreme heat.
  • Justice Department Environmental Justice Investigation into Alabama Department of Public Health and Lowndes County Health Department: The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity consults with Office for Civil Rights on the public health aspects of the Justice Department’s environmental justice investigation into the wastewater disposal programs of the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Lowndes County Health Department.

Resource Development

  • Climate and Health Outlook: The Outlook uses the most current long-term forecasts that come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to illustrate how climate events pose a health risk for all Americans.

Requests for Information

HHS is reviewing input from the public on climate change and health issues from the following requests for information:

  • NIH Request for Information: Climate Change and Health (NOT-ES-21-009)
  • AHRQ's Role in Climate Change and Environmental Justice Request for Information (86 FR 56953)
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2023 Final Rule Solicitation of Comments on Health Equity, Climate Health, and Qualified Health Plans (87 FR 27353)
  • Medicare Program; Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System and Proposed Policy Changes and Fiscal Year 2023 Rates Proposed Rule Request for Information on the Current Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Outcomes, Care, and Health Equity (87 FR 28478)
  • SAMHSA's Role in Possible Agency Actions Regarding Mental Health and Substance Use Wellbeing in the Context of Climate Change and Health Equity Request for Information (87 FR 53477)

HHS-Wide Action

The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity is also helping to coordinate relevant programming across the other Divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services.  These are some examples of relevant programs across the Department:

  • NIH Climate and Health Initiative: The NIH Climate Change and Health Initiative is an urgent, cross-cutting NIH effort to reduce health threats from climate change across the lifespan and build health resilience in individuals, communities, and nations around the world, especially among those at highest risk.
  • CDC’s Climate and Health Program: CDC’s Climate and Health Program supports state, tribal, local, and territorial public health agencies as they prepare for the health impacts of a changing climate.
Content created by Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH)
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