Urgent and ambitious climate action is required to avoid catastrophic climate change and consequent health impacts. Political will is a critical component of the ambitious climate action equation. The current level of political will observed for many national governments is considered inadequate, with numerous political leaders yet to commit to climate action commensurate with the projected risks and responsibilities for their respective jurisdictions. Under the leadership of the Obama administration, however, the United States of America arguably provided an example to the contrary. Strategically utilising an available legislative lever, the Obama administration pursued comparatively ambitious climate change mitigation policies, with health as a core motivation. Analysis of Obama-led climate policies and policy-making strategies provides valuable insight into the utility of health as a motivator for climate action. It also reaffirms that strong political leadership constitutes an essential element in the pursuit of increasingly ambitious climate change policies, particularly in the face of strong opposition.
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Workman, A., Blashki, G., Bowen, K., Karoly, D. J., & Wiseman, J. (2020). Political leadership on climate change: The role of health in Obama-era U.S. climate policies. Environmental Research Letters, 15(10): 105003. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aba8c3.