A climate change and public health conference initiated by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and several non-governmental organizations will replace the cancelled Centers for Disease and Control Prevention’s (CDC) Climate and Health Summit, according to a Jan. 26 American Public Health Association (APHA) press release.
Organizers began planning the new Climate and Health Meeting last week — less than a month before its Feb. 16 start, and will keep the conference to a single day, according to Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute Ashish Jha. The CDC’s Climate and Health Summit had been scheduled to take three days. Taking place at the Carter Center, the new conference will feature panels and speakers, including some who were scheduled for the cancelled event.
Following President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, the CDC alerted attendees that the conference was cancelled, according to The Washington Post.
“[The CDC] cancelled [the Climate and Health Summit] out of fear of retribution from the Trump administration,” Jha said.
Trump publicly denied that climate change is real on several occasions, and announced plans to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency last year. Minutes after Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, the topic of climate change was almost entirely eradicated from the White House website.
“Today we face a challenging political climate, but climate shouldn’t be a political issue,” Gore said in a Jan. 26 press release.
The CDC did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The new conference’s organizers, including the APHA and Gore’s nonprofit Climate Reality Project, asked former U.S. President Jimmy Carter if they could host the conference at the Carter Center since attendees were already planning to travel to Atlanta for the cancelled conference, according to Director of Communications at the Carter Center Deanna Congileo.
“We have to bring people together … to discuss the problems that climate change creates but also potential solutions,” Jha said.
The meeting will be free, and admission will be on a first-come, first-serve basis, Jha said. He anticipates a fully packed room of around 200 people, including scientists, public health officials and policymakers.