Growing old in a changing climate: meeting the challenges of an ageing population and climate change

Growing old in a changing climate: meeting the challenges of an ageing population and climate change

Involving the elderly in climate change policy making

Climate change and an ageing population bring together two key policy challenges which need to be addressed to ensure a safe, secure, equitable and sustainable future. to, and casualties of, climate change as well as potential campaigners to tackle the problem. The over 50s contribute to the problem of climate change due to carbon emissions resulting from their level of consumption but they may also be more at risk from climate-related threats due to an increased likelihood of deteriorating health that comes with age.

This report includes the recommendations of the first national workshop on older people and climate change.  The authors argue that the life experience and knowledge of the over 50s mean that they are uniquely placed to comment on government responses to political and economic crises.


  • risk assess all future policies The scope and magnitude of the threats associated with global climate change demand that central government departments risk assesses all future policies to ensure that implementation does not undermine government targets to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions
  • climate change proof the homes of older people in order to reduce CO2 emissions from the housing sector and tackle fuel poverty. A programme of investment funded by national government is necessary so that every dwelling in England is retrofitted to the highest possible standard - and should start with all those of retirement age
  • a major programme of local accessibility enrichment and modal shift taking into account best practice on walking, cycling, public transport and land use planning in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands. Strategic Health Authorities and local authorities have a key role to play in developing integrated and preventative measures to ensure older people enjoy healthy and
    active ageing
  • better transport for older people. Older people have suffered from the trend toward out-of-town shopping centres that are accessible only by car, and from the withdrawal of so many bus services across the country. By 2015, standards of modal share and public transport efficiency, reliability, interchange potential, safety and security should be equal to best practice in the European Union. Community transport will be vital for those older people who are unable to use public transport
  • leadership driven by central government is required to address the challenge of growing old in a changing climate and to ensure a safe, secure, equitable and sustainable future for older people. This leadership should establish an Older People and Climate Change Group that brings together older people’s organisations, key stakeholders, the voluntary sector, government agencies and academia. This group should initially be charged with developing a national policy framework that sets out cross sectoral interventions and policies to improve the quality of life of older people. This collaborative effort would improve, focus and co-ordinate action to deal with the range of issues and impacts a changing climate will have on the lives of an ageing population
  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.