Climate change is the greatest threat to global health in human history. It has been declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization and leading researchers from academic institutions around the globe. Structural racism disproportionately exposes communities targeted for marginalization to the harmful consequences of climate change through greater risk of exposure and sensitivity to climate hazards and less adaptive capacity to the health threats of climate change. Given its interdisciplinary approach to integrating behavioral, psychosocial, and biomedical knowledge, the discipline of behavioral medicine is uniquely qualified to address the systemic causes of climate change-related health inequities and can offer a perspective that is currently missing from many climate and health equity efforts. In this article, we summarize relevant concepts, describe how climate change and structural racism intersect to exacerbate health inequities, and recommend six strategies with the greatest potential for addressing climate-related health inequities.
Keywords: Climate change; Environmental justice; Health inequities; Structural racism.
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.