A new center has been established at the Yale School of Public Health to address climate change, one of the crucial environmental and public health challenges of the 21st century.
The Yale Center on Climate Change and Health (YCCCH), which evolved from the Yale Climate Change and Health Initiative, aims to utilize research, education, public health practice, and service to help achieve a stable and safe climate in which public health and diverse ecosystems thrive.
Dean Sten H. Vermund, Ph.D., M.D., said that YCCCH will fundamentally reshape the way the Yale School of Public Health—and Yale—address climate change.
“This is significant step forward for the Yale School of Public Health,” Vermund said. “I am excited to see what important contributions our new research center will make to our understanding of climate change and how we might mitigate human suffering caused by weather. Our partnerships with our sister schools at Yale are an especially appealing element of the YCCCH.”
The Yale School of Public Health is among a handful of public health schools in the world to have a center dedicated solely to climate change and health.
“In 2019 alone the world endured catastrophic tropical cyclones in southeast Africa; unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic, California, and Australia; and record heat waves in Europe. Right now in Sydney, Australia, wildfires are causing air pollution that is 10 times the level deemed to be hazardous,” said Robert Dubrow, M.D., Ph.D., professor at the School of Public Health and the center’s inaugural director. “The world needs to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the root cause of climate change, while at the same time protecting the public from climate change’s adverse health impacts. The Yale School of Public Health — in close partnership with many experts from across the university and beyond — is uniquely situated to contribute to these efforts.”
The Yale Climate Change and Health Initiative was created at the Yale School of Public Health in 2015 in response to growing concerns about how climate change was affecting the health of populations in developed and developing countries around the world. Martin Klein, Ph.D, M.P.H., who was instrumental in establishing the initiative, served as its Executive Director and now holds the same position for YCCCH.
As a full center, YCCCH’s initial priorities will include:
- Establish a world-class interdisciplinary research program. YCCCH will remain a partner in The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, a multidisciplinary collaboration of 35 academic institutions and UN agencies from every continent dedicated to monitoring the evolving health profile of climate change, and providing an independent assessment of governments’ delivery of their commitments under the Paris Agreement. In addition, the center will promote original research on the complex relationships between weather, seasons, a changing climate, and health outcomes; model the effects of future climate change on health; assess different populations’ vulnerability to climate change; develop and evaluate interventions; and assess health impacts of climate change mitigation.
- Expand its public health practice program. In 2019, the Climate Change and Health Initiative established a year-round Clinic in Environmental/Climate Justice, Sustainability, and Public Health, in partnership with Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Sciences. YCCCH will expand this effort, in which student teams carry out applied research and public health practice projects with external partners under the supervision of clinic faculty. The center also plans to produce white papers on pressing issues related to climate change and health.
- Increase educational opportunities. YCCCH will continue to offer its 18-week online certificate program on climate change and health for working professionals — the first online certificate program focused on this topic offered by a U.S. school of public health — as well as its Coursera Specialization on the same topic. The center also will create a climate change and health concentration for M.P.H. students, expected to be only the third concentration of its kind nationwide.
The center was approved by the provost as an official Yale center in December 2019. Its main funder is the High Tide Foundation.