The effects of climate change on health in the UK

13 May 2007

The UK Department of Health and Health Protection Agency have published an updated report on the Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK. The report shows that the UK population is adapting well to the increasing temperatures experienced since the 1970s, but heatwaves still pose a serious problem to health and they will become more frequent.

The Department is asking for comments up to six weeks from publication (3 May 2007) and a final version will be published in July 2007.

The report, which was first published in 2002, takes into account up-to-date information and current predictions about climate change in the UK.

The main findings of the report include:

  • By 2012 there is a 1 in 40 chance that South Eastern England will have experienced a serious heatwave.
  • Periods of very cold weather will become less common, while periods of very hot weather will become more common.
  • Winter deaths will continue to decline as the climate warms.
  • Flooding is an increasing risk.
  • Tick-borne diseases are likely to become more common in the UK, but this is more likely to be due to changes in land-use and leisure activities, than to climate change.
  • Increased exposure to sunshine and to ultraviolet light will lead to an increase in skin cancers.
  • The UK population seems to be adapting to increasingly warm conditions.

You can download the full updated report from the Department of Health at:

One of the authors of the report, Professor Robert Maynard from the Health Protection Agency said, "The present scientific consensus is that the climate is changing and that human activity is contributing significantly to this. We have to prepare for the consequences and consider the possible health impacts. Some aspects are positive, for example there are likely to be fewer deaths due to cold weather, but others are potentially negative, including increases in food poisoning and dangers from both floods and droughts."

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