The climate crisis is so much more than an environmental disaster: it impacts nearly every aspect of day-to-day life. Extreme heat and flooding can exacerbate respiratory illnesses, and disasters like hurricanes and wildfires not only cause physical injury but can overwhelm health systems and force people to leave their communities for days, months, and sometimes permanently.
More than 100 million Americans currently lack access to primary care, and as the climate crisis intensifies, displacing residents and forcing hospital closures, that number is expected to grow. Against this backdrop, it is clear that recognizing the connection between public health and the environment is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of achieving environmental justice.
Recognizing the critical need to prioritize all dimensions of health in light of the climate crisis, Massachusetts leaders Senator Markey, Senator Warren, Congresswoman Pressley, New York’s Congressman Bowman, California Representative Ro Khanna, and many more district leaders have united to champion a transformative solution: The Green New Deal for Health—a comprehensive bill aimed at enhancing healthcare access, prioritizing climate resilience, and establishing a sustainable medical supply chain.
As a people-centered environmental justice organization, Groundwork USA is thrilled to witness federal representatives taking action and stepping up to propose tangible measures that simultaneously improve health and reduce the impacts of climate change. This is an important step in addressing the systemic environmental, health, and climate inequities experienced by communities of color, Indigenous communities, and low-income communities due to the legacy of underinvestment and environmental harm.
Senator Markey expressed the importance of this legislation, “With the increasing frequency of climate disasters, the health and safety of frontline environmental justice communities are more at risk than ever. We urgently need to invest in a more sustainable system, one that is resilient to the impacts of climate change, supports its workers, and doesn’t rely on fossil fuels.”
the Green New Deal for Health Proposes:
- Increased Support for Community Health Centers: Ensuring all communities have access to quality healthcare services regardless of background or location.
- Preventing Healthcare Deserts: Recognizing the importance of maintaining essential healthcare infrastructure, the provisions aim to prevent the emergence of healthcare deserts and ensure frontline communities have sufficient care facilities.
- Building a Resilient and Environmentally Conscious Medical Supply Chain: The legislation will help create a resilient and green medical supply chain, safeguarding public health in the face of climate challenges while expanding the workforce and stimulating job growth in sustainable industries.
- Support for Healthcare Workers: The initiative allocates funds for climate and health education, ensuring that healthcare workers have the knowledge and tools to address the impacts of climate change and public health.
Heather McMann, CEO of Groundwork USA, expresses her optimism, “Integrating public health into the climate justice conversation recognizes the far-reaching impacts of climate change beyond the environment. By addressing this intersection, we can foster inclusive solutions led by residents, prioritizing community well-being and resilience alongside environmental protection.”
The strong support for this bill reflects the shared understanding that our pursuit of justice and health equity must include environmental stewardship and building climate resilience. The bill recognizes the inherent right of every individual to live in a healthy and sustainable environment and underscores the significant impact of environmental conditions on public health.
Curious about the Green New Deal for Health and want to learn more? Read the article from Senator Markey to learn how this legislation can address climate change and public health.