UK researchers have published the first ever study assessing the impact of global warming on the elderly in the UK. Their report includes suggestions for older people, institutions and policy makers on how to deal with the effects of a warming planet. The report was drawn up by members of the Stockholm Environment Institute, academics of the University of York, and Help the Aged, a charity. The researchers call on Government and public authorities to take action to better protect older people from the future effects of climate change. The research, entitled ´Growing Old in a Changing Climate´ aims to stimulate wider debate on the issue. Dr Gary Haq, University of York and lead author of the report, said that
Older people are among the prime contributors to climate change, but also potentially some of the first casualties.”
He added that there is an urgent need to exploit synergies between climate change policies and policies aimed at older people, and to avoid duplication and contradiction.
Older people must be part of the solution: we need to make it easier for them to conserve energy, use public transport and maintain crucial social networks that will help them better cope with the effects of a changing climate.”
The UK´s aging population has been factored in in policy making issues. Climate change is an issue that is of similar persistence, demanding similar political and social policy changes, the researchers say. Older people are likely to be physically, financially and emotionally less resilient to climate change and Government strategies will need to address this. The report outlines five recommendations and calls on government agencies and older people’s organizations to make a concerted effort to reduce the vulnerability of older people by improving their ability to cope with future effects of climate change. It calls on government to:
- 1.Risk assess all future policies so they do not undermine government targets to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions and put older people at risk
- Climate change proof the homes of older people – both new and existing – to increase energy efficiency and tackle fuel poverty
- Enrich local accessibility to deliver safer, stronger and healthier communities for older people
- Better transport for older people to ensure they can maintain independence and connect to friends, family and wider community
- Leadership on older people and climate change and the setting up of an older people and climate change group to outline a national policy framework to focus and co-ordinate action.