A new report published by the Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York, in collaboration with Help the Aged, calls on government and public authorities to take action to better protect older people from the future effects of climate change.
The report Growing Old in a Changing Climate is the first national report to examine the impact of climate change on an ageing population. It aims to stimulate wider debate on the issue, and appropriate policy responses from institutions, politicians and older people.
Dr Gary Haq, University of York and lead author of the report, said: “Older people are among the prime contributors to climate change, but also potentially some of the first casualties. 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.”
Mervyn Kolher, Special Advisor, Help the Aged and co-author, said: “Two enormous - but utterly predictable - waves will be rolling across the global landscape in the coming decades: the ageing of our populations and the effects of climate change. Whatever other political and social policy changes will command our attention; these two challenges will be constant and unrelenting. 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 organisations 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:
- 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.
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