California is increasingly suffering from climate-related burdens to health, including impaired water quality from extreme precipitation events, more frequent and intense heat waves increasing the risks of heat stroke and dehydration, and degraded air quality due to increasingly pervasive wildfires.1
Whether it’s floods, fires, heat waves, or other climate disasters, the road to recovery is unequal.2
Vulnerable populations lack resources to adequately prepare, respond, and recover from climate impacts. Structural and systemic inequality and racism have exacerbated climate-related inequities, resulting in Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities bearing the brunt of climate-driven extreme heat, flooding, poor air quality, forest fires, and natural disasters. Low-income and BIPOC communities have been denied the resources and investments needed to build community climate resilience.3
There is substantial evidence that Green Infrastructure (GI) not only improves water quality, reduces carbon emissions, and protects communities from the impacts of climate change. GI should incorporate parks, trails, and green spaces as a public health equity strategy to improve physical and mental health. Tree canopy, green roofs, and permeable pavements can lessen the impact of heatwaves and the urban heat island effect. Green streets and parks can reduce not only stormwater runoff but also improve air quality and integrate active commuting and recreation to improve health. As California increases investments in infrastructure to address climate change and promote community resilience, it is essential that GI is prioritized as a critical strategy to promote public health, environmental justice, and equity.