Washington Pediatricians for Climate Action: 2021 Achievements

Nancy Danoff, MD, FAAP
Washington Pediatricians for Climate Action

In the past year, Washington Pediatricians for Climate Action (WPCA) helped successfully pass a significant bills to address climate change.  Throughout the 2021 legislative session, WCAAP members Drs. Alexandra Perkins, Pragya Rai, Nancy Danoff, and Alexandra Obremskey worked tirelessly to write testimony and opinion pieces, and to meet with legislators to advance climate action legislation. WPCA, which was started as the Washington branch of the national AAP Climate Advocate’s program, formed partnerships with local and national groups including the Medical Consortium on Climate and Health, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Climate Solutions, and the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units.

  • The Clean Fuel Standard passed in the 2021 legislative session will limit greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035.
  • The HEAL Act incorporates environmental justice in the crafting of legislation and outlines how agencies should consider community needs and environmental justice in their work.

WPCA also made the first climate presentation at the WCAAP’s advocacy day in February 2021 and will present again in 2022.

Formed in 2020 by Dr. Perkins, a pediatric resident at Seattle Children’s, WPCA is a group of 20 dedicated pediatricians from around the state. The group seeks to improve the lives of our patients through mitigating the impacts of climate change. In addition to legislative advocacy, the group also focuses on education, research, and restoration. Its efforts led to the adoption of a climate change curriculum in the Seattle Children’s pediatric residency program, the first in the country to formally incorporate climate change into residency training.  Members Drs. Perkins and Jonathan Cogen have also initiated two research projects, one on the effect of wildfire smoke on pediatric ED visits and hospitalizations, and the other a survey of pediatric trainees’ knowledge on climate change as it pertains to children’s health and opinions on how it should be incorporated into medical training.

Drs. Perkins and Mollie Grow have been active volunteers with the Green Seattle Partnership to restore local ecosystems. They are working to engage the wider Seattle Children’s and Washington state pediatric community in these efforts by hosting volunteer work parties.  They also are hoping to work primarily in areas that are traditionally underserved, as a way to address the unequal impact of climate change on different groups of people.

WPCA has recruited new pediatric interns for the coming year and welcomes any interested pediatric health care providers around the state to become more involved.  For those wanting more information on how to become more involved, please see the website pedsforclimateaction.org or email peds4climateaction@gmail.com.