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Project Name:

Connecticut Countdown on Climate Change and Health

Organization Name:

Yale Climate Change and Health Initiative (CCHI)

Preceptor Name(s) and Contact Information:

Brief Description of Organization:

CCHI utilizes research, education, public health practice, and service to move toward a world with a stable and safe climate in which the public’s health and diverse ecosystems can thrive. To help achieve this vision, CCHI aims to 1) facilitate innovative interdisciplinary research to understand the health impacts of climate change and of human activities that cause climate change; 2) provide a comprehensive educational program in climate change and health that trains future leaders; 3) utilize public health science to support governmental and civil society efforts to mitigate or adapt to climate change and to achieve climate justice; and 4) contribute to local, national, and international scholarly efforts to summarize and track the effects of climate change on health.

Project Description:

The Lancet Countdown , an international collaboration to track progress on health and climate change, reports on annual global indicators in five areas: 1) climate change impacts, exposures and vulnerabilities; 2) adaptation planning and resilience for health; 3) mitigation actions and health co-benefits; 4) economics and finance; and 5) public and political engagement. Yale is a participant in this international collaboration.

The Connecticut Countdown on Climate Change and Health (CT Countdown) will track progress on climate change and health specifically in Connecticut. Health issues related to climate change vary according to locality. Climate-related health issues affecting Connecticut include adverse health effects of coastal storms, climate-sensitive infectious diseases (e.g., Lyme disease, West Nile fever), heat waves, waterborne infections and shellfish contamination from combined sewer overflows after flooding, toxic algal blooms, aeroallergens, and ground-level ozone formation associated with extreme heat.

The goals of CT Countdown are similar to those of the Lancet Countdown:

  • Identify and track exposures to climate change hazards in Connecticut, the vulnerability of geographic sub-regions and sub-population within Connecticut to these hazards, and the resultant adverse health impacts.
  • Assess and track climate change and health adaptation planning and implementation, as well as health-related resilience, in Connecticut, at the state, municipal, and healthcare system levels.
  • Assess and track progress on climate change mitigation in Connecticut in the electric power, industrial, transportation, built environment, and agricultural sectors
  • Assess and track the immediate health co-benefits of climate change mitigation in Connecticut, such as reduced air pollution and increased physical activity    
  • Assess and track a) health-related economic benefits of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in Connecticut and b) progress on the economic and financial steps needed to advance health-related mitigation and adaptation, including investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation and pricing of greenhouse gas emissions to accurately reflect their social cost. 
  • Assess and track public and political engagement on climate change and health in Connecticut, including institutional divestment from the fossil fuel industry; government and civil society opposition to development of new fossil fuel infrastructure.

CT Countdown will develop indicators in each of these six domains. Some will be borrowed from the Lancet Countdown, but will be downscaled to Connecticut. For example, the Lancet Countdown tracks the carbon intensity of the global energy system, whereas CT Countdown will track the carbon intensity of Connecticut’s energy system. Other indicators will be newly developed for the specific circumstances of Connecticut. For example, Lyme disease incidence rate and season length are not tracked by the Lancet Countdown, but will be tracked by CT Countdown.

The CT Countdown indicators will be tracked in an annual report that will present and interpret indicator trends. The report will highlight areas where progress is being made as well as challenges that need to be addressed. To track indicators, we primarily will use existing data sources. For example, to track Lyme disease incidence, as well as incidence of other potentially climate-sensitive infectious diseases (e.g., West Nile fever, Vibrio infections), we will collaborate with the Connecticut Emerging Infections Program.

 CT Countdown will only be useful in partnership with local and state government agencies, NGOs, and community organizations. CT Countdown will not be an academic exercise – it will be a report that helps policymakers and advocates track progress on addressing key climate change and health issues and to make appropriate adjustments based on the data, all to protect and improve the health of Connecticut residents.  

The project will have the following aims:

Aim 1: Finalize a list of CT Countdown indicators, based on the Lancet Countdown as well as Connecticut-specific factors. The team will build upon a list that is already in development.
            Aim 1a: Write a rationale for inclusion of each indicator

Aim 2: Identify data sources for each indicator, establish appropriate contacts with data holders, and obtain the needed data.

Aim 3: Compile the data for each indicator into attractive user-friendly figures, graphs, or tables.

Aim 4: Write a draft CT Countdown report, with generous use of appendices. The report format should be modeled after the format of The Lancet Countdown report, with possible improvements.

Aim 5: Identify target audiences for the CT Countdown report, develop a dissemination strategy, and develop a system to track when and how the report is used  

Expected Work-Product and Deliverables:

The deliverables for this project will include the following:

  • A list of CT Countdown indicators, with a rationale for inclusion of each indicator
  • A spreadsheet of data sources and contacts
  • A draft CT Countdown report
  • A CT Countdown PowerPoint presentation about the report
  • A dissemination strategy and system to track when and how the report is used