Economics of Climate Resilience: Health

Submitted by Michael Rastall | published 27th Mar 2013 | last updated 15th May 2013

Executive summary

This report explores whether there is a case for further intervention by government or other bodies in relation to certain climate change impacts on health and well-being. It is anticipated that individuals and organisations will adapt in various ways to particular health effects of projected climate change out to the 2050s, without further government intervention. The purpose of this report is to provide an assessment of the ability to adapt, and the barriers and constraints to effective adaptation. An assessment of the extent to which adaptation action is likely to be taken is offered. Cost benefit analysis of particular actions is not within the scope of this report and should be carried out separately on a case-by-case basis. The potential effects from projected climate change assessed in detail by UK Climate Projections (UKCP09) are broad; therefore, this report focuses on four specific questions set by Defra and the Department of Health. These are:

“Given current policy and the current and expected adaptation, what is the case for further intervention in relation to:

• The continuity of services in NHS hospitals at risk of flooding, with illustration of Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Worthing Hospital and Aintree University Hospital, as case studies;

• The mental health and well-being of individuals affected by floods, with illustration using the case studies of Hull and Gloucestershire and with additional commentary on Toll Bar;

• Community resilience to future weather events, focusing on flooding, with illustration of Toll Bar and Great Yarmouth as case studies; and,

• The health impacts of heatwaves and rising mean summer temperatures on older populations (those over 65), with illustration using case studies in Eastbourne and Islington.”

The above questions were assessed using case studies to highlight key issues, which are more widely applicable. 

This analysis does not seek to repeat the substantial work that has been undertaken to date on each of these areas, but rather to provide new insights on expected levels of adaptation and barriers to effective action. This analysis is based on readily available evidence and extensive stakeholder engagement. There have, however, been significant challenges in undertaking this work. The limitations are discussed in the main report but it is worth noting the lack of formal evidence in many of these areas which limits the ability to draw precise conclusions.