Climate change is already impacting the lives of British Columbians and increases in the frequency and severity of climate-related hazards are expected in the coming years and decades.
In British Columbia average temperatures are increasing, variable and extreme weather is becoming more frequent, and sea levels are rising. These broad changes will increase the frequency and intensity of a number of climate-related hazards (shown below). These hazards are associated with several physical health and mental health impacts in addition to wellbeing impacts in our communities. They disproportionately affect certain populations, including children, seniors, people with pre-existing health conditions or disabilities, Indigenous communities, systemically marginalized groups and people who are underhoused or resource deprived. These hazards also impact the health system, including our facilities and ability to deliver health care services.
Lancet Countdown on health and climate change emphasizes that climate change is the greatest global health threat facing the world in the 21st century, but it is also the greatest public health opportunity to align climate, public health, and social equity goals. We are committed to mitigation and adaptation approaches that reduce carbon emissions and prepare the population for future climate risks, while also reducing inequity and promoting the health of all communities. The infographic below shows our vision for a healthy, low-carbon, climate-resilient future.
Working in partnership with researchers from UBC, Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health have released a series of maps that spatially represent community vulnerability to four climate hazards (heat, smoke, ozone, and flooding). The maps were originally inspired by similar work by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and are meant to advance our collective understanding of what makes individuals and communities vulnerable to climate change. These maps can open and guide conversations about community climate resilience, and action to mitigate negative impacts.
Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health have shared the maps and related vulnerability index with municipalities, regional districts, First Nations, community organizations and other partners to work together to build more resilient communities. The project's findings are available to the public and can be viewed through an interactive, user-friendly website that walks visitors through each hazard and then allows users to view the maps for their specific communities.
Sample image taken from regional Community Health and Climate Change map.
Although climate change and health adaptation has been underway in Vancouver Coastal Health for several years, Health Canada was able to accelerate and strengthen these activities by awarding three years' funding to VCH, Fraser Health, Facilities Management and Health Emergency Management BC under the federal HealthADAPT program. This HealthADAPT project is conducting a climate change and health vulnerability assessment to understand the level and types of risk to population health, facilities, and the health system, and also existing levels of preparedness. Following that process, our project will begin a collaborative process of creating a Climate Change and Health Strategic Plan to adapt to climate change and build health system resiliency.
For more information on the impacts of heat and wildfire smoke, and measures you can take to protect yourself and others around you visit
To learn more about the HealthADAPT project or the climate vulnerability maps contact: