Smoke scattered throughout the mountainside

Report of the VCH Chief Medical Health Officer: Protecting Population Health in a Climate Emergency

This landmark report brings together multiple sources of data and analyses to describe the impacts of climate change on population health, and to examine the most significant impacts experienced and anticipated in the region.

View the CMHO Report
poster detailing the climate impacts on health and the health care system

In British Columbia and worldwide, average temperatures are increasing, variable extreme weather is becoming more frequent, and sea levels are rising.

These hazards affect health and well-being in our communities and facilities and can impact our ability to deliver health-care services.

Download the poster
Adapting to our changing climate

Mitigation: reducing our greenhouse gas emissions

Organizations worldwide must take urgent steps to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions to minimize changes to our global climate system. The less our global climate warms, the fewer the impacts on our health and day-to-day lives.

Adaptation: preparing for current and future challenges

While we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions drastically, we must also adapt to the unavoidable and often unpredictable risks of a changing climate. Climate change adaptation is the process of ensuring that we are ready for the current and future challenges of a changing climate.

Healthy Environments and Climate Change team

VCH Public Health works to prevent illness, by reducing the extent to which environmental and social factors negatively impact the health of our communities.

The focus of the Healthy Environments and Climate Change team is on improving health outcomes linked to physical and environmental factors such as climate change, noise and air pollution, community design and more, through research, policy input and review, and education.

Who we work with

Regional, municipal and non-governmental partners on plans, projects, and policy proposals, incorporating lenses of environmental determinants of health and equity.

How to reach the VCH Healthy Environments and Climate Change team:

Research and Reports

HealthADAPT Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment

In 2019, Health Canada awarded funding to VCH and partners under the federal HealthADAPT program to conduct a Climate Change and Health Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment to understand risks to population health, facilities, and the health system, and also existing levels of preparedness.

Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment summary report

Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment report

Following the Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment process, we undertook a collaborative process with community partners to create a Climate Change and Health Adaptation Framework. This framework includes specific recommendations to build community and health system resiliency organized across six pillars:

  1. Emergency preparedness and response
  2. Risk assessment, epidemiology, and research
  3. Communications
  4. Leadership and advocacy
  5. Health equity
  6. Facilities

Climate change and health adaptation framework

Community health and climate change maps

Working in partnership with researchers from UBC, Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health created a series of maps that represent the vulnerability of communities within our health regions to four climate hazards: heat, smoke, ozone, and flooding. These maps are meant to advance our collective understanding of what makes individuals and communities vulnerable to climate change.

Read the community health and climate change map to access project's findings are available to the public. 

The annual 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 opportunity to redefine the social and environmental determinants of health."

At VCH, 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. 

Climate change infographic

More on this topic

Extreme cold

Wildfire smoke

Extreme heat

Community Health & Climate Change Maps

Indoor air quality

Storms and flooding

Public Health officials urge Lower Mainland residents to remain vigilant in taking precautions during high temperatures

Lower Mainland Health Authorities supporting Armstrong care home residents impacted by wildfire evacuation alerts

Extreme Heat Alert

Public Health officials urge Lower Mainland residents to take precautions during anticipated high temperatures

Take steps to minimize exposure to smoky air this weekend

Public Health officials provide guidance ahead of high temperatures this weekend

Vancouver Coastal Health update on extreme heat conditions

Extreme Heat Alert

Hot weather starting tomorrow calls for caution