Integrating health into local climate response: Lessons from the U.S. CDC climate-ready states and cities initiative

Mary C. Sheehan, Mary A. Fox, Charlotte Kaye, Beth Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Public health has potential to serve as a frame to convey the urgency of behavior change needed to adapt to a changing climate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Local governments form the backbone of climate-related public health preparedness. Yet local health agencies are often inadequately prepared and poorly integrated into climate change assessments and plans. We reviewed the climate health profiles of 16 states and two cities participating in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Climate-Ready States and Cities Initiative (CRSCI) that aims to build local capacity to assess and respond to the health impacts of climate change. Following recommendations from a recent expert panel strategic review, we present illustrations of emerging promising practice and future directions. We found that CRSCI has strengthened climate preparedness and response in local public health agencies by identifying critical climate-health impacts and vulnerable populations, and has helped integrate health more fully into broader climate planning. Promising practice was found in all three recommendation areas identified by the expert panel (leveraging partnerships, refining assessment methodologies and enhancing communications), particularly with regard to health impacts of extreme heat. Vast needs remain, however, suggesting the need to disseminate CRSCI experience to non-grantees. In conclusion, the CRSCI program approach and selected activities illustrate a way forward toward robust, targeted local preparedness and response that may serve as a useful example for public health departments in the United States and internationally, particularly at a time of uncertain commitment to climate change agreements at the national level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number094501
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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