The beginning of each year is a time when we remember the previous year and look forward to the year ahead, and there is much to think about.
For climate scientists, there is no doubt that 2022 was a remarkable year.
Here in the UK, we’ve had our hottest year on record, with temperatures above 40C recorded for the first time.
Temperatures in Coningsby, Lincolnshire hit 40.3C, beating the previous UK record by 1.6C, and a hot spell in July saw the Met Office issue its first ever red warning for extreme heat.
Tragically, there have been 2,803 heat-related deaths among people over 65 in England this summer, reminding us that our changing climate is an ever-growing health security issue with a real human cost.
Here at UKHSA, 2022 was a landmark year as we launched our Climate and Health Safety Center in October with a mission to make a step change in our capabilities.
The Center now leads UKHSA’s climate health activities with a focus on partnership and collaboration with academia, local authorities and other public sector organisations.
Since forming our vision for the centre, we have worked closely with partners to shape its offering, and in the autumn we were delighted to host three focus groups that brought together local authorities and health professionals from across the country.
We were especially keen to hear your thoughts on how we might develop some of the Centre’s key products this year.
- a collection of climate health indicators and indicators to help professionals track, measure and analyze the impact of climate change in various areas of public health
- online climate evidence hub which will provide those working in climate and health security policy, practice and research with the best available evidence, including evidence syntheses and case studies
- local authority risk assessment toolkit which will help local government professionals map and respond to the health impacts of climate change using an all-hazards approach.
Over a hundred experts joined us, giving us a wide range of insightful and actionable feedback.
As time-crunched professionals, you urged us to focus on areas where there are gaps in evidence or resource provision to help avoid duplication of existing material.
You also asked us to ensure that local relevance is taken into account, recognizing that, for example, coastal or rural areas have different challenges to urban areas. Participants were attracted by the choice of selecting information at national, regional, local or ward level.
You also encouraged us to link our work to other areas and topics that are not overtly related to climate and health but are relevant, such as mental health and transport.
The need to support you in sharing best practice and translating research and data into practical and usable information for local authorities (and every department within them) was mentioned several times.
We would like to thank everyone who participated. we will welcome all feedback and use it to inform the work we do throughout 2023.
I am really looking forward to a busy first year for the Centre, as in addition to developing the above resources, we are also contributing to the 3rd National Adaptation Program overseen by DEFRA, which sets out actions by Government and others. adapting to the challenges of climate change within five years.
In the spring we will publish a single severe weather and health plan to replace England’s hot and cold weather plans, including drought and flood guidance.
And in the summer we will publish the fourth iteration Health impacts of climate change in the UKA landmark report produced regularly and last published in 2012, it analyzes a range of threats to our health.
From increasingly inclement weather and the potential for impacts on our food security to the risk of mosquito-borne diseases becoming endemic in the UK, the risks we face are real.
But we look forward to working with you to help the nation adapt to these threats and ultimately keep more people safe.