The Climate Change Subcommittee seeks to identify key interagency strategies to understand and address threats to children’s health from climate change and continue to explore federal agency opportunities to address effects of climate change on children’s health. Children are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Federal agencies engaging in climate change preparation, mitigation, adaptation, and response all need to understand how children may be exposed and affected by the plethora of human health threats posed by climate change, including: heat waves, extreme weather, disasters, air and water quality changes, vectorborne and foodborne diseases, and food quality and security, and mental health issues. Climate change will both increase children’s exposure to environmental exposures that put their health at risk, and worsen existing health problems, through both direct health effects and by disrupting the social systems and infrastructures that help children and families address health issues.
Current priorities for the Climate Change Subcommittee include:
Around the country, recognition of the unique vulnerability of children is spurring policy actions and programs to protect children’s health against the impacts of climate change. These activities are happening at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels through both government and non-government efforts. The President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children gathers stories to highlight these policies and activities and to help build a community of practice around children’s health and climate change. The stories have been included in presentations at national public health meetings and shared through the Task Force email list. (Statements in the stories do not represent official views of the Task Force or any of its members).Submit your own story to the Climate Change and Children’s Health Policy Roundup!
In 2014, in response to growing recognition of climate change and its consequences for health, the Task Force created a Subcommittee on Climate Change to explore the impacts of climate change on children’s health and to coordinate efforts among the federal community to raise awareness and generate knowledge on this topic. In July 2014, the Task Force began this process by hosting an Expert Consultation on the Effects of Climate Change on Children’s Health in Washington, D.C., a goal of which was to inform the sustainable assessment process of the U.S. Global Change Research Program in developing its 2016 Climate and Health Assessment. The assessment gives special attention to impacts on children in its chapter on Populations of Concern. At the meeting, federal leaders spoke on the need for better understanding of impacts of climate change in order to protect children’s health. Expert speakers explored children’s vulnerabilities due to heat, waterborne and vectorborne diseases, extreme weather, changing nutritional value in foods, air pollution, extreme events, and mental health. This meeting marked the first time leaders from across the federal government met specifically to discuss climate change and children’s health.