New UK Health Report to Help Britons Adapt to Greater Health Risks as Climate Changes

A graphic displaying the health impacts of climate change in the United Kingdom

This post was updated in June 2024

Looking to further assess and address the risks to human health posed by climate change, the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) has released a new report, “Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2012.”

Adapting to Climate Change: Health Implications for Britons

In this latest effort to better assess and gauge the health risks climate change poses in the UK, HPA researchers concluded that climate change poses a wide range of increased health risks from a range of factors, including greater ranges of temperature and a higher frequency of extreme weather events, as well as increased levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, increased levels and duration of allergens in the air, higher levels of outdoor and indoor air pollution and increased levels of food, water and insect-borne diseases.

The HPA’s latest report also highlights the benefits of a national strategy and nationwide efforts to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions to improve health conditions in the UK. In addition to healthier air, land, and water resources, these benefits extend to promoting healthier, more active lifestyles.

Commenting on researchers’ findings, HPA chairman Dr. David Heyman stated, “There is no doubt that climate change poses a wide range of challenges to public health in the UK. From increased risks of heatwaves to potentially greater exposure to air pollution, indoors and outdoors, and potential changes to established pollen seasons, there are many issues, all of which need further research and attention if we are to adapt to or mitigate the effects.”

Key Findings of the UK Health Protection Agency Report

This latest study on the health impacts of climate change in the UK follows up on previous seminal reports, including the 2001 publication of “The Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK” by the Department of Health (DoH), a 2008 update of that study produced by the DoH and HPA, and the production of the UK’s first Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) in 2009.

The CCRA examines the impacts of climate change on health spanning 11 sectors of UK society. The CCRA research project was undertaken as required by the UK’s Climate Change Act of 2008. It incorporates what were then the latest long-range climate projections of the UK from the UK Climate Impacts Programme.

The growing body of evidence regarding the effects of climate change in the UK—the HPA’s new study in particular—will help inform and guide policies and actions not only at the level of national health agencies but increasingly at the local level.

Strategies for Mitigating Health Risks Associated with Climate Change

The HPA is moving to Public Health England next year, a change that entails greater involvement with local authorities in public health decision-making, according to HPA. “This report will help provide valuable evidence towards local protection of the public’s health, with, for example, many actions to combat heatwaves already covered in our National Heatwave Plan,” DH Chief Medical Officer Prof. Dame Sally Davies writes in the HPA’s report’s first preface.

“As well as preparing for the health impacts of climate change, we are also able to help prevent the worst of these impacts as urgent action to reduce individual and corporate carbon footprints continues. We can then also reap the health benefits of a low-carbon society, with cleaner air and more active, healthier lifestyles to help combat obesity, cancer, and heart disease. A win-win we can all engage in.”


Andrew Burger
Andrew Burger
A product of the New York City public school system, Andrew Burger went on to study geology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, work in the wholesale money and capital markets for a major Japanese bank and earn an MBA in finance.

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