Climate and health: Two sides of the same coin?

While climate change is established as a growing global crisis, the impact on human health and well-being are only more recently being explored. The World Health Organization is creating momentum in this regard, with a recently issued health-driven call for climate action (WHO, 2021). Mental, psychosocial and physical health are in jeopardy as a consequence of both climate change-related hazards (e.g. extreme heat, floods, droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes) as well as climate change-related global environmental threats (e.g. deforestation, overfishing, pollution, exposure to climate-related disasters) (ibid). In this context, vulnerable and disadvantaged populations across society often face disproportionately high threats as a result of preexisting health conditions, socioeconomic status, demographics or geographic/socio-political characteristics (ibid). There is thus an urgency for climate and wider environmental policies to recognise these interlinkages and take action to advance progress towards environmental protections to reduce potential negative impacts.

The European Green Deal (EGD) and associated European Union policies represent a broad framework of legislative, non-legislative and financial measures addressing various aspects of the climate emergency and its consequences. Yet the link to various facets of mental well-being and physical health are often not explicitly or only minimally acknowledged within these policies.

A new study acknowledges critical climate-environment-health interlinkages and aims to identify promising entry points for increased health advocacy in European climate policies. In doing so, the scoping exercise will support EPHA’s ambition to augment its engagement in European climate adaptation and mitigation policies and support its members and partners in directing their advocacy efforts in the climate mitigation and adaptation policy space, potentially allowing new partnerships to be built and opportunities to advance better health to be seized.

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