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Austrian Special Report Health, Demography and Climate Change - Summary for Policymakers


The effects of climate change on health are already being felt today and can be classified as an increasing threat to health in Austria. The most severe and far reaching effects to be expected are health impacts due to heat. Also changes in ecosystems which influence the distribution, frequency, types and severity of pollen allergies and vector-borne infectious diseases and alter the patterns of precipitation and storms will threaten health. Furthermore, changing demographic structure and composition including population aging and migration can increase the number of people exposed to health risks. The health impacts of climate change are not distributed evenly across population sub-groups as older people, for instance, are physiologically more susceptible to extreme heat whilst migrants with lower socioeconomic resources dispose of a reduced adaptive capacity.

However, there are many options for action to mitigate the health effects of climate change and reduce vulnerability. These range from better information of hard to reach people to urban planning measures in the case of increasing heat, better management of highly allergenic plants as well as an integrated event documentation of extreme weather events for more targeted measures with strengthened self-provisioning. For the early detection of infectious diseases, health competencies of the population and health personnel must be improved and climate-related health inequalities can also be avoided by improving health literacy.

At the same time, efforts to mitigate climate change can also yield health benefits and these health co-benefits of climate change mitigation should be emphasised when promoting climate actions.

To initiate a transformation in the intersection of climate and health requires cross-policy cooperation of climate and health policy and is an appealing opportunity to simultaneously implement Austria’s Health Targets, the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. With transformation research and research-led teaching, science can accelerate transformative development paths and foster new interdisciplinary solutions to problems.

Reference information


The full APCC Special Report "Health, Demography and Climate Change" (SR18) is available in German here.

Austrian Panel on Climate Change (APCC)

Published in Climate-ADAPT Oct 18 2021   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Dec 06 2022

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