Our public health is inextricably linked to the health of our environment. President Obama made this point powerfully this week, as his administration declared new actions to protect the wellbeing of citizens from the effects of climate change. Among the actions announced is a new commitment from CDP to open additional data from our vast collection. In particular, CDP will open its 2015 data related to the public health impacts of climate change in US cities, and how those city governments are tackling them.
While most of the attention on climate change’s impacts goes to major weather disasters like Hurricane Sandy and California’s ongoing drought, the impacts of changing temperatures on public health are also insidious and widespread. “For public health,”writes World Health Organization’s director-general Margaret Chan, “climate change is the defining issue for the 21st century.” Warming temperatures drive increased transmission of disease, exacerbate air pollution, and lead to more cases of asthma. In the US, around one-fifth of the population lives near roads with high levels of air pollution. And the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled since 1980.
The data that CDP collects helps to demonstrate how much environmental risks also threaten public health. This data shows that city governments in the US are already experiencing public health impacts. Atlanta, for example, says climate change is causing increased temperatures from urban heat island effect, altering precipitation patterns and “impacting the health of Atlanta’s residents and visitors.” The below chart highlights key climate risks reported by US cities in 2014:
Crucially, city governments are stepping up to this challenge by taking emissions reductions activities that bring public health benefits. Last year alone the 207 cities that disclose through CDP reported 757 adaptation activities. You can explore more insights on how cities are managing these environmental risks through CDP’s open data portal and keep informed of future developments by following #CDPdata on Twitter.
CDP is proud to support the President’s leadership on climate change. We look forward to making this data public soon.