Changes in the global climate, known as climate change, may bring about a number of human health consequences to the UK.

We can already see the impacts of climate change and these will become more severe as global temperatures rise. How great the impacts will become depends upon our success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Risks

Climate change can be a driver of disease migration, as well as exacerbate health effects resulting from the release of toxic air pollutants in vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those with asthma or cardiovascular disease. Crop failures may lead to rising prices or possible food shortages and conflict over water, land, and food may lead to mass migration of displaced people.

The direct consequences of climate change for UK health may include:

  • An increase in deaths from floods, storms and heat exposure;
  • More cases of food poisoning as the instances of food-borne infections rise with warmer temperatures;
  • A greater number of respiratory problems from the damage to surface ozone during the summer and mould growth in homes;
  • Increased risk of skin cancer and cataracts;
  • An increase in cases of insect-borne diseases from an increase in numbers of flies and fleas;
  • An increase in psychological stress; and
  • An increase in poverty and malnutrition as food prices soar due to failure of crops and negative impact on ecosystems globally.

Additional information

To find out if you are at risk from river, coastal or groundwater flooding now or in the next few days see the GOV.UK flood information service page.

To read more about the health effects of climate change in the UK see the health effects of climate change in the UK 2012 report.

To complete a home energy check to find out how to reduce energy bills and therefore carbon emissions, see the Home Energy Check website.