Environmental Audit Committee on adaptation raises concerns about risks to health

Rebecca Gibbs's picture

Evidence on the global of effects of climate change have been very well documented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change including those to human health.

This week in response to the publication of the Committee on Climate Change’s UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, the Parliamentary Select Committee that scrutinizes UK environmental policy, the Environmental Audit Committee, questioned senior officials on government progress on adaptation.  The Risk Assessment identified areas where stronger UK action is needed: flooding, heat wave, risks to water supplies, risks to natural capital, risks to food and new pests and diseases affecting people plants and animals.  This EAC session examined the adequacy of policy in these areas.

Witnesses included Lord Gardiner, minister with responsibility for adaptation, senior Defra officials and senior members of the Adaptation Subcommittee from the Committee on Climate Change.

Some of the key health points from the session:

  • Homes are being built now that readily over heat.  While we have minimum standards on insulation we don't on ventilation
  • 200,000 homes to be built in this parliament in areas of flood risk
  • Many old hospitals, with higher thermal mass, currently offer the best protection against over heating as against modern units
  • There are some studies but we don’t have the data we need on overheating risk for care homes and hospitals.
  • The EAC chair argued that the risks from heatwave have been ‘completely neglected by the government’ especially in regards to new build.  In January the Department of Health commissioned a two-year independent evaluation of their heat wave plan for England and DCLG have commissioned new research on overheating in new homes.

Witnesses from the Committee on Climate Change made clear the work of many government departments are needed including the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department of Health.   This is just as well as it was confirmed in the session that the Defra adaptation team has shrunk from 38 to 9.

View the session at: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/973b7452-b413-471c-aa26-dd7e0890ac6e

For more information on EAC visit: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/

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