News
27 August 2020
Asthma , COPD, Allergy, Other Diseases
PREVENT, - Air Quality

Climate change is an increasing risk to people’s health, yet health is not a widely discussed topic alongside the climate. Those with allergy and respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are at particular risk of their conditions worsening as the climate emergency continues.

As part of efforts to make Europe a leader in climate action, the European Commission opened a public consultation on reforming the current 2013 Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

This consultation is in line with the European Commission’s plans for a European Green Deal. The Deal, a 5-year plan, covers policy areas including energy, food, and transport to create EU climate action with people’s well-being at its core.

A climate adaptation strategy seeks to prevent catastrophic climate change and to minimise the consequences already occurring. It takes into account the welfare and economic impact on people that climate change may have, and the measures taken to address this.

How climate change impacts allergy and respiratory health

Europe cannot ignore how changes to the environment impact people’s health. EFA responded to the European Commission’s consultation with key points that the reformed strategy should consider:

  • The extreme weather changes caused by climate change endanger vulnerable groups. Children, the elderly, and people with chronic respiratory illnesses can face a 33% increased mortality rate during heatwaves.
  • As plant cycles are affected by climate change, pollen season becomes increasingly longer across Europe. More people become sensitive to pollen as a result, and as more greenery is planted in towns and cities, often highly allergenic, this also increases sensitivity.
  • It is not just the outdoors, as indoor pollution also affects those with allergies or respiratory illnesses. Poor ventilation systems, indoor air pollution, flooding and water damage (often brought on by climate change) in people’s homes, schools, and workspaces can all impact a person’s health.

What the EU needs to do next to protect health from climate change

The European Commission should make health a priority under the new strategy. EFA welcomes initiatives that aim to reduce health-related risks caused by climate change, however bigger ambitions are needed. Renewing the 2013 EU Climate change adaption strategy is a promising first step. Any future EU climate adaptation strategy needs to invest in the prevention of climate-change provoked illnesses that threaten people’s well-being.

EFA's full response to the public consultation on reforming the current 2013 Climate Change Adaptation Strategy can be found here.

Dear Visitor,

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Stay safe!
The EFA Team