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Advocating for Action on Climate Change and Health by Kathy L. Reiner

The recently released International Panel on Climate Change report provides unequivocal evidence that there is very little time to ensure a livable planet for future generations.  The importance of meaningful, courageous action on climate has never been more urgent. The Biden administration’s proposed 2022 budget contains powerful initiatives to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provides hope that global warming can be limited to 1.5°C, probably the best case scenario for the planet and human health.  These initiatives are currently part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package and Budget Reconciliation currently awaiting Congressional approval.   Strong advocacy efforts from nurses will help to pass these initiatives with the strongest climate programs intact.  This is why I was so grateful that ANHE organized a series of virtual meetings with Congressional representatives and their nurse constituents.  I was fortunate to be part of the meetings organized with aides from both Colorado Senator Bennet’s office and Representative Crow’s office.  Previous advocacy work with ANHE and the National Association of School Nurses gave me the opportunity to get comfortable with talking to my Congressional representatives and the support of ANHE’s policy consultant Sarah Bucic along with an excellent fact sheet regarding ANHE asks, made the experience a very positive one.   Both Senator Bennet’s and Congressman Crow’s office listened, took notes, and our group of Colorado nurse constituents made a strong case for the climate and health benefits of the current proposal including a Clean Electricity Payment Program that cuts pollution and modernizes our grid, no more subsidies for fossil fuel corporations, and more investments in the current deal to expand and electrify public transit, invest more in EV charging  500,000 EV charging stations, and replacing 100% of lead pipes.  Thanks to ANHE for organizing this advocacy effort for nurses to call on our policymakers to take strong action now to address climate change and improve our families’ and community health!

Kathy L. Reiner, MPH, BA, BSN, RN, AE-C

2019-20 Fellow, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments