Climate change & health
Adapting to unavoidable risks from climate change while reducing our impact through facility design and operations.
In British Columbia and around the world, average temperatures are increasing, variable and extreme weather is becoming more frequent, and sea levels are rising.
These hazards affect health and wellbeing in our communities as well as our facilities, and can impact our ability to deliver health care services.
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.
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:
- Emergency preparedness and response
- Risk assessment, epidemiology, and research
- Leadership and advocacy
- Health equity
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.