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Climate change, health, and equity: A guide for local health departments

This resource is available in English only.

While climate change affects the whole population, groups that are already at a disadvantage due to structural inequities are more vulnerable and may have fewer resources to respond to the negative impacts of climate change on their physical and social environments. For the same systemic reasons, marginalized populations are more likely to already have poorer health, thereby experiencing more severe negative health effects and weakened ability to recover from events related to climate change.

This intricate intersection of climate change and health inequities points to a necessary and integral role for public health to address these complex issues at the local level.

Climate change as a public health issue

Climate change, health, and equity: A guide for local health departments has recently been released through the Public Health Institute Center for Climate Change and Health and the American Public Health Association.

This guide provides an overview of the following topics:

  • What climate change is
  • How it influences health
  • The equity perspective of specific climate change outcomes
  • How public health programs can overlap with climate change initiatives
  • Core public health actions at the local level that integrate addressing climate change and population health inequities.

The guide is designed to allow public health practitioners at all levels to identify their own work as it relates to this issue, providing a variety of entry points for public health into climate change work. An intersectoral Health in all Policies approach is reinforced as the main strategy through which to achieve climate mitigation through public health programs.

Use this resource to:

  • deepen your knowledge about the effects of climate change on population health and health inequities;
  • facilitate discussion about how existing public health programs can impact and be impacted by climate change;
  • identify multisectoral approaches and core public health functions that relate to addressing health inequities impacted by climate change; and
  • develop strategies to address the disproportionately high negative impacts of climate change experienced by populations who are disadvantaged due to structural inequities.


Rudolph, L., Harrison, C., Buckley, L. & North, S. (2018). Climate Change, Health, and Equity: A Guide for Local Health Departments. Oakland, CA, and Washington, D.C., Public Health Institute and American Public Health Association.

Related resources

Tags: Climate change, Environmental health, Intersectoral action, Public health unit / health authority, Public Health Association, Link

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