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For Immediate Release: May 6, 2014

TFAH’s Statement on the National Climate Assessment: A Clarion Call to Action

Washington, DC, May 6, 2014 – The following is a statement from Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) on the release of the National Climate Assessment (NCA) today.

“TFAH is pleased to see the release of the third National Climate Assessment and commends the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC) for this important work.  The portion of the NCA that addresses human health is particularly critical to underscoring what evidence has told us for years – that climate change has serious ramifications for health and that some of these effects are, unfortunately, already well underway.

For example, climate change has led to emerging and re-emerging public health threats, including the largest outbreak of West Nile Virus in over a decade and the highest rates of malaria cases since 1970. Also, poor air quality has, partly, led to an increase in asthma rates—the number of people with asthma grew by 4.3 million from 2001 to 2009.

To address these grave public health concerns, the NCA rightly points out that prevention and early action offer the greatest potential health benefits. Quite simply, this document represents the clearest and most striking clarion call to action to-date. But, we can’t stop here.

To further the work of the NCA, TFAH calls on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to release proposed carbon pollution standards for existing power plants by June 1, the deadline set by the President’s Climate Action Plan last summer.  And, as soon as possible, the EPA should finalize carbon pollution standards for new plants based on proposed rulemaking, which was conducted last year.

While we take steps nationally, we must also ensure that states and local public health departments are adequately funded and receive the resources and support necessary to prevent and mitigate the health effects of climate change.  And, every state should have a comprehensive climate change adaption plan that includes a public health assessment and response – yet, as of December, only 15 states have such plans according to a report on infectious disease outbreaks by TFAH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

The Administration’s Climate Plan and the National Climate Assessment holds the promise of improving all aspects of American life – from the public’s health to the economy to the air we breathe and water we drink.  TFAH looks forward to working with the Administration, Congress, states and partners to make sure the framework laid out by the NCA will culminate in a vastly improved nation’s health.”

Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org

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Contact

Media Contacts: Albert Lang (202) 223-9870 x 21 or alang@tfah.org or Laura Segal (202) 223-9870 x 27 or lsegal@tfah.org