Climate change is seen to be one of the biggest threats to human health, and is already impacting on health with more extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, drought and flooding. Other potential impacts include a rise in infectious disease, respiratory disease and immune system disorders, water scarcity and famine as food systems are disrupted.
Climate change should also be viewed positively in terms of potential health impacts since many of the measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change – such as more sustainable travel methods and food production chains – are closely aligned with health improvement strategies.
HUDU guidance includes advice on what to include when assessing the health impacts of climate change.
The Climate Change Act 2008 sets out a range of measures to manage and respond to climate change. These include measures to improve carbon management and facilitate the transition towards a low-carbon economy in the UK. The Act sets out a legally binding target of at least an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and a reduction in emissions of at least 34% by 2020. Both targets are against a 1990 baseline.
More recently, the London Climate Change Partnership published A Summary of Climate Change Risks for London (Jan 2012) to coincide with the publication of the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) 2012.
Responding to climate change is one of the central planks of the London Plan (July 2011), and the Mayor’s vision for London is to make it:
“A city that becomes a world leader in improving the environment locally and globally, taking the lead in tackling climate change, reducing pollution, developing a low carbon economy and consuming fewer resources and using them more effectively.” Para 1.53, London Plan, July 2011.
As part of this commitment, the Mayor has published a climate change adaptation strategy – Managing risks and increasing resilience – The Mayor’s climate change adaptation strategy, Oct 2011.