Department of Environment and Geography Lecture Series
Professor Paavola's talk examines how social and health inequalities shape the health impacts of climate change in the UK, and what the implications are for climate change adaptation and health care provision. The talk will draw from the work Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) commissioned for the Climate Change Report Card on the key health impacts of climate change in the UK.
Altered exposure to heat and cold, air pollution, pollen, food safety risks, disruptions to access to and functioning of health services and facilities, emerging infections and flooding are the key impacts of climate change influencing health outcomes in the UK. Professor Paavola suggests that age, pre-existing medical conditions and social deprivation are the key factors that make people vulnerable and to experience more adverse health outcomes related to the climate change impacts. For this reason, climate change, aging population and decreasing public spending on health and social care may aggravate the inequality of health outcomes related to climate change in the UK in the future.
Health education and public preparedness measures that consider the differential exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of different groups could help address health and social inequalities to do with climate change. In contrast, adaptation strategies based on individual preparedness, action and behaviour change may actually aggravate health and social inequalities due to their selective uptake, unless they are coupled with broad public information campaigns and financial support for undertaking adaptive measures.