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Climate Change

Volume 494: debated on Wednesday 17 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department has taken to adapt its activities to climate change in the last two years. (277638)

All Departments are actively involved in the cross-Government Adapting to Climate Change Programme, which aims to help society adapt to climate change. The role of the programme is to develop and provide a comprehensive evidence base including adaptation tools, to raise awareness of the need to adapt, to measure success and to work across Government at all levels to embed adaptation. Further details about the programme’s work can be found at:

As well as working together to tackle issues that affect all departments and their work, each Government Department is adapting to climate change in its own operations and policies.

On adaptation to the expected health impacts of climate change, the Department of Health has:

published a report with the Health Protection Agency on the “Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK, 2008”, using the UKCIP02 scenarios. The report sets out the various health effects facing the United Kingdom from climate change. A copy has already been placed in the Library;

produced a National Heatwave Plan, first launched in 2004, that is updated yearly based upon the latest available evidence. The plan’s purpose is to enhance resilience in the event of a heatwave. A copy has already been placed in the Library. A traffic light ‘Heat-Health Watch’ system operates in England during the summer months;

produced guidance with the Health Protection Agency on dealing with disruptive challenges and managing incidents including from flooding. The guidance “NHS Resilience and Business Continuity Management Guidance” has been placed in the Library;

raised awareness of the health impacts of climate change with guidance documents on climate change and promoting sustainable communities for the health sector, outlining key mitigation and adaptation policies and also suggesting a code for reducing carbon footprints;

in December 2008, launched a new public health workforce initiative funded by the Department to address climate change. This is tasked with creating a new vision of the role for public health in tackling climate change, equipping the profession to take action on both reducing emissions and on preparing for climate change;

on national health service energy targets, the NHS is working towards mandatory energy and carbon efficiency targets (from 2000 to 2010) and key performance indicators for new capital build developments and refurbishments, and the existing operational estate;

the NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy was recently launched on in January 2009 and sets out ways that these reduction targets can be achieved. The plans cover many aspects of patients’ care, from building design to transport, waste, food, water and energy use;

internationally and following on from the WHO Climate Change and Health Resolution, 2008, UK officials have worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat to develop a WHO work plan for its implementation. This work plan was agreed at the 62nd World Health Assembly this year; and

the UK also co-chairs a Climate Change and Health Task Force, drafting a Framework for Action for WHO-Europe, given that, since the resolution was passed last year, WHO regions are developing their own climate change action plans.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of his Department’s potential gross (a) costs and (b) savings arising from its climate change adaptation measures in the next three years. (277722)

It is not currently possible to provide estimates of the potential costs and savings over the next three years. It has, however, been shown in the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change that timely and well-targeted climate adaptation measures will yield benefits in excess of their costs. The main rationale for investment to address climate risk will be to reduce the United Kingdom’s vulnerability to longer-term climate change impacts.

The Government are undertaking a Climate Change Risk Assessment and Economic Analysis, which will provide estimates of the costs and benefits of adaptation to the UK. This analysis will be presented to Parliament within three years of the Climate Change Act 2008 coming in to force.