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Responding to climate change will benefit health now

Reducing the risk of climate-related health impacts requires immediate action. The more greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere, the more we can expect the planet to warm, resulting in increasingly more severe extreme weather and health impacts. Actions need to be taken now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase the planet’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases, improve community resilience to climate impacts, and address vulnerabilities to health risks. Often, these actions provide immediate health, environmental, economic, or other benefits today while also reducing potential impacts of climate change in the future. Many of these actions are considered “win-win” strategies because they will provide multiple benefits to society even if future climate change has less impact than is currently expected.

“Win-Win” Actions to Reduce Climate Change

Action

Benefits

Develop compact, mixed-use city, town, and village centers with safe and complete pedestrian and bicycling facilities

  • Increased physical activity
  • Improved access to jobs, businesses, and other destinations
  • Reduced vehicle emissions due to less travel
  • Improved air quality

Increase use of public transit, vanpools, and carpools

  • Money savings from reduced vehicle fuel costs
  • Reduced emissions due to fewer vehicles on the road
  • Improved air quality

Increase energy efficiency of buildings and vehicles

  • Increased indoor comfort with lower heating and cooling costs
  • Money savings from reduced vehicle fuel costs
  • Reduced emissions due to less energy usage
  • Improved air quality

Switch to local, clean energy sources

  • Reduced emissions from burning fossil fuels
  • Increased support for the local energy economy
  • Improved air quality

Buy food and other goods from local sources

  • Reduced emissions due to less long-distance shipping of goods
  • Increased support for local businesses

Plant trees and develop green stormwater infrastructure

  • Increased carbon storage in plants and soil
  • Improved water quality
  • Reduced risk of flooding
  • Improved community aesthetics
  • Reduced urban heat effect and risk for heat-related illnesses
  • Reduced air conditioning costs
  • Reduced emissions due to less air conditioning usage

take action to reduce health risks from climate change!

Communities and institutions can use these tools to help adapt to the challenges of a changing climate.
How can I help reduce my contribution to climate change?

Your “carbon footprint” is the estimate of the effect that your day-to-day activities have on the climate—the greenhouse gas emissions associated with your daily activities. You can estimate your carbon footprint, by using the EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator.

There are many great information resources that can help us reduce our individual carbon footprints. Here are a few to help you get on the way to a cleaner, greener, healthier life: