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Climate, Emergencies, and Disasters

Purpose

Children play in flood water

The purpose of the Subcommittee on Climate, Emergencies, and Disasters is to provide a convening and coordinating role to empower federal partners to collectively assess and address gaps and inequities in health protection and research related to children and pregnant/lactating mothers that results or arises from climate change, public health emergencies, or disasters. This subcommittee was stood up in July 2021, expanding the scope of the prior Subcommittee on Climate Change. Climate change, public health emergencies, and disasters often, but not always, overlap. Each type of event, however, can potentially increase children’s exposure to environmental hazards that put their health at risk, including by worsening existing health issues and disparities, by direct health effects and by disrupting the social systems and infrastructures that help children and families address health issues.

The current goals of the subcommittee include:

Goal 1: Strengthen federal interagency coordination and collaboration.
Goal 2: Build external partnerships and public health awareness.
Goal 3: Provide expert consultation and guidance.
Goal 4: Facilitate development and coordination of a federal research agenda.

The subcommittee is developing and conducting a landscape analysis that will map federal capacities in understanding, investigating, intervening, and communicating about the topics that are the focus of this group and that will assess priority needs of children and help to identify appropriate and effective ways in which the President's Task Force can expand, enhance, or amplify the work of its federal members.

Accomplishments

Response to NIH Request for Information on Climate Change and Health (113KB) 

In September 2021, the National Institutes of Health issued a Request for Information (RFI) on Climate Change and Human Health (Notice Number: NOT-ES-21-009) inviting feedback on research approaches and topics on the health implications of climate change in the United States and globally. The RFI specifically encouraged feedback on impacts on vulnerable populations including children and pregnant women. The subcommittee co-chairs led the development and submission of a response to this RFI on behalf of the Task Force.

Climate Change and Children’s Health Policy Roundup

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).

Expert Consultation on the Effects of Climate Change on Children’s Health

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.

View presentations.

Resources – Climate Change

Resources – Emergencies and Disasters

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