Health and climate change
Climate change undermines the foundations of health in the UK and worldwide – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.
Increasing number and intensity of extreme weather events, like floods and storms, damage health facilities and infrastructure putting health systems under intense pressure. Moreover, the main health effects of flooding are often on mental rather than physical health.
Failure to act quickly will exacerbate existing national health challenges, place undue financial strain on the NHS, and worsen health inequalities both within the UK and internationally.
Health benefits of climate action
Many of the key drivers of climate change – fossil fuel energy, unhealthy diets and poorly designed cities which make us reliant on cars rather than active transport – harm our health directly through air pollution, high saturated fat intake and physical inactivity.
By responding to climate change we can simultaneously bring huge public health benefits and help reduce financial pressure on our health service. It is an unprecedented opportunity to improve public health and protect our environment for future generations.
Protecting health in a changing climate depends on embedding actions on mitigating climate change and the principles of sustainable development in policies across all sectors and into everything that we do, as health organisations, as health professionals, and as citizens.