(in partnership with the Colorado Health Institute)
Climate change is a global issue that will affect every Coloradan, but local environmental factors, health conditions, and social factors such as income and age influence the risks faced by individuals and communities.
Think Globally, Act Locally: 2022 Colorado Counties Health and Climate Index, a new project from the Colorado Health Institute (CHI), examines climate change’s impacts on human health and the current state of preparation across the state of Colorado.
“Climate change is already affecting the health of people and communities in Colorado. The Health and Climate Index is an important tool for understanding the challenges — and the steps we need to take to address them,” said Karam Ahmad, a senior policy analyst at CHI and co-author of the report. “We hope this project will start necessary conversations and help communities across the state plan to adapt to our changing climate.”
CHI released the first Health and Climate Index in 2019 to illuminate how environmental exposures, demographics, and local policies and perceptions can affect vulnerability to climate change impacts such as wildfire, drought, and heat. This 2022 Health and Climate Index, the first update to the original report, analyzes the risks Colorado counties face in four areas: Exposure to climate-related hazards, health outcomes and access to care, social factors that have been linked to climate vulnerability, and plans and perceptions related to climate change and health.
Douglas, Teller, and western Colorado counties had high risk scores for environmental exposure. Southeastern Colorado, Adams County, and several western and northeastern counties had high risk scores for health outcomes and access to care, while southeast Colorado and the San Luis Valley had high social factor risk scores. Rural counties had higher risk scores for plans and perceptions related to the health impacts of climate change.
But each county has a distinct profile of risks and needs that should be considered as communities respond to and prepare for a changing climate. The Index highlights a need for more targeted climate adaptation planning and capacity building across Colorado.
The new Health and Climate Index is the inaugural report released as part of Acclimate Colorado, CHI’s effort to build capacity, community resilience, and a policy agenda for addressing climate-related health challenges in Colorado. Acclimate Colorado is supported by The Denver Foundation and by the funders that make CHI’s work possible.
“We believe that all Coloradans deserve to be healthy, and that climate change is a significant barrier to health equity,” said Javier Alberto Soto, President and CEO of The Denver Foundation. “By raising awareness of challenges and work that’s already being done, and by identifying and advancing policies to address climate change’s impacts on health, Acclimate Colorado is helping to create a healthier future.”
The Health and Climate Index includes:
- A statewide analysis report featuring geographic trends, questions for communities to consider, and examples of promising practices across the state.
- County data profiles with in-depth data about exposures, sensitive populations, and plans and perceptions related to climate change (available on report page).
- An interactive map featuring needs and risks related to climate change and health for each Colorado county.
CHI will share findings from the Climate and Health Index and explain how the tool can be used by Coloradans and communities in a free interactive webinar on July 21, 2022. Register for the webinar here.
About the Colorado Health Institute: CHI believes that good health policy leads to a healthier Colorado. We are a nonprofit, independent consultancy driving the well-being of our state and nation through policy expertise and implementational know-how. We simplify complexity, put work in context, and advance policies that make a difference. We partner with foundations, governmental agencies, and health systems and others working to improve health and health equity. CHI’s philanthropic funders include the Caring for Colorado Foundation, the Colorado Springs Health Foundation, The Colorado Trust, and Zoma Foundation.