Public health in a changing climate

Daniel Button and Anna Coote
11th May 2016

How far has the shift of public health into local government affected efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change in areas facing climate disadvantage?

Climate change poses both a threat and an opportunity for public health. This report reviews current local strategies and actions to address climate change by public health departments and their partners. It explores barriers and opportunities for action, and identifies recommendations for local and national policy and practice.

  • the full potential of recent structural changes to the public health system is not being realised;
  • the risks of climate change to health are occasionally acknowledged within Joint Strategic Needs Assessments; however, this awareness is seldom reflected in Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies;
  • many public health departments are taking climate action. This is often driven by individuals championing initiatives rather than strategy. Where actions have been taken, they are framed in terms of the shorter-term benefits to health and wellbeing; and
  • cuts to local authority budgets and the long-term nature of climate change mean that climate change is seldom regarded as a priority.
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