Statement by Olivia J. (Gertz) Diaz-Lapham, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California on global climate action announcements and health opportunities for immediate action | American Lung Association

Statement by Olivia J. (Gertz) Diaz-Lapham, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California on global climate action announcements and health opportunities for immediate action

(June 23, 2015)

The American Lung Association in California celebrates the strong climate announcements today by US EPA, US Surgeon General, and The Lancet. We stand ready to join our health partners and leaders in doing whatever we can to move forward to address climate change to protect health today and into the future.

  • Today, the US EPA issued a ground-breaking report, Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action, indicating that by 2100 – if we take global action on climate – we can prevent 57,000 deaths annually in the United States from reduced air pollution and avoid an estimated 12,000 deaths annually that are associated with extreme temperatures.

  • Also today, several key Lung Association leaders and experts participated in the first White House summit on climate change and health, sharing their experience with health impacts already seen across the United States as a result of climate change and calling attention to the need for a strong response.

  • Yesterday, the Lancet, a medical journal based in the UK, released a major report on climate and health (2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change: Policy Responses to Protect Public Health), stating that climate change could erase 50 years of health advances and that acting on climate change immediately provides the greatest health opportunity of the 21st century.

  • And last week, Pope Francis issued a powerful Encyclical calling on humanity to end fossil fuel use to reduce climate change as a moral choice to protect the planet and the poor.

These reports all underscore that climate change poses the greatest threat to human health today that will only grow in the future unless we act.  We have the momentum to change course. Now we have additional evidence.

The American Lung Association in California launched this year to provide a platform for physicians to educate their patients and communities about climate change impacts to our air and our health, and the opportunities available to improve the health of our air and environment. This week in his statement, Dr. Dick Jackson reinforces the Lancet Commission conclusion that health professionals are key to educating the public and policymakers on the health impacts of climate change and the need to do more to halt global warming.

The good news is that tackling climate change results in immediate health benefits. By calling on our leaders to support strong clean air and climate policies -- including a strong national Clean Power Plan to clean up dirty power plants, strong ozone regulations that are science based and health protective, and here in California, Senate Bills 32 and 350 now in the legislature -- we can reduce lung disease, and other health impacts of pollution, and protect our communities' health today and into the future.

Thank you for standing with us in our fight for clean air. To learn more about the need for healthy air, visit:  .

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