The first casualties of global warming, when its effects really set in, will be the elderly. What are governments doing to prevent the worst impact? Little is known about any strategies or contingency plans in place. That is because the plans are only in the research stage.
In the UK, the first study assessing the impact of global warming on the elderly nationwide revealed that government measures are definitely needed to better protect older people from the future effects of climate change.
The report¬¥s authors said there is an urgent need to exploit synergies between climate change policies and policies aimed at older people. “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,” said the lead researcher, Dr Gary Haq, a university of York academic.
The UK¬¥s aging population already is somewhat factored in on the policy front.
The report also includes suggestions for older people, institutions and policy makers on how to deal with the effects of a warming planet.
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
2.Climate change proof the homes of older people – both new and existing – to increase energy efficiency and tackle fuel poverty
3.Enrich local accessibility to deliver safer, stronger and healthier communities for older people
4.Better transport for older people to ensure they can maintain independence and connect to friends, family and wider community.
5.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.
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 research, entitled ¬¥Growing Old in a Changing Climate¬¥ aims to stimulate wider debate on the issue.