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Climate Change

Temperature increases and extreme weather events associated with climate change have significant impacts on public health through heat stress, vector-borne diseases, malnutrition and other drought-related problems, respiratory and allergic disease, and developmental effects like pre-term birth.

Why It Matters

Choices we make about how we move goods and people, how we design our building and communities, and what kinds of energy we use to power our homes and offices all impact our ability to reduce and adapt to climate change. Policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions support health directly by reducing the impacts of climate change. Climate change reduction policies can also indirectly support better health through the promotion of cleaner energy sources, healthier transportation options, more sustainable agricultural practices, and other changes. Because many impacts of climate change (heat stress, increased costs of energy and food, increased respiratory illness) will disproportionately fall on older adults, children, and people with low incomes, policies to reduce climate change can have a significant impact on health disparities.

What We’re Doing

Upstream's works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through several issue areas, particularly through transportation and land use.  Upstream is following the Governor's 10 Year Energy Plan and Oregon's Statewide Transportation Strategy to ensure that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also consider health and equity impacts.  

In 2012, Upstream represented public health interests on the rule-making advisory committee that provided feedback on the requirements for the Portland metro area scenario planning. Scenario planning is a process by which Metro is developing and evaluation different land use and transportation scenarios to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from light vehicle travel by 20% by 2035.  

Our Successes So Far

See Transportation & Land Use for information about Upstream's health impact assessments related to climate change: on the Land Use and Transportation Policies in the Eugene Climate and Energy Action Plan and on Policies Reducing Vehicle Miles Travelled in Metropolitan Areas in Oregon.

Upstream developed a training curriculum for health departments interested in completing health impact assessments on climate change related policies.  It will be available online in late 2012.