Sustainability and climate change

Climate change is posing an unprecedented challenge to the health and wellbeing of workers and the public around the world. We understand the realities, assesses the health risks of climate change, and provide sustainable solutions in the workplace, at home, and in our cities.

Climate change is likely to aggravate health risks by increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather-related events, such as heatwaves, floods, droughts, and forest fires, contributing to air pollution episodes, and altering exposure to UV radiation, chemicals, and biological hazards.

We believe that there is an opportunity to realise a wide range of health benefits through climate change mitigation and adaptation measures and by promoting sustainable development more broadly. These health benefits can result from low carbon policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from many sectors, for example by improving energy efficiency in buildings, providing sustainable transport solutions, increasing the share of renewable energy generation, and increasing and improving urban green spaces.

What our scientists do:  

Our scientists asses the health risks of climate change and provide sustainable solutions in the workplace, at home, and in our cities more broadly.

We develop systems-based, interdisciplinary methods involving environmental scientists, occupational hygienists, social scientists, epidemiologists, toxicologists, and data and information scientists to elucidate pathways to better health and wellbeing in the occupational, domestic, and urban environment.

We aim to further the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which focus international attention on interventions that have the potential to provide multiple co-benefits for health, the environment, and the economy, particularly in the workplace and urban settings.

We coordinate the Healthy-Polis International Consortium for Urban Environmental Health and Sustainability (www.healthy-polis.org) and have been involved in a number of urban sustainability research projects such as URGENCHE (Urban Reduction of GHG Emissions in China and Europe)

Our scientists have been involved in assessments of temperature-related effects on human health. They also had involvement in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment and National Adaptation Plan.

 

Key Projects in this area 

  • HEIMTSA
  • CITI-SENSE
  • URGENCHE

Sponsors we have worked for 

  • European Commission

Rising temperatures could result in increased exposure to heat for many workers, causing discomfort, dehydration, and heat strokes, as well as posing indirect risks to their mental health and alertness. Higher temperatures will exacerbate health risks associated with the inhalation of volatile substances and pollen.

Climate change is also altering the spatial distribution of vectors of infectious diseases (such as mosquitoes and ticks), posing risks to people living or working in natural environments or in contact with animals.

On top of that urban areas are facing a wide range of health challenges related to environmental change, including contamination of air, water and soil. For example, unsustainable transport, with associated air pollution, noise and long commuting times affect public health and productivity across the world.

As one of the longest-established independent occupational and environmental health research institutes in the world, our scientists have been developing research to identify mitigate and propose adaption measures that will have a genuine impact on the threats that climate change presents today and in the future.
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