Willi HAAS - Hanns MOSHAMMER - Raya MUTTARAK - Olivia KOLAND (Hg.)


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

Austrian Panel on Climate Change (APCC)
Austrian Special Report 2018 (ASR18)



ISBN 978-3-7001-8430-0
Print Edition
ISBN 978-3-7001-8598-7
Online Edition

2019,  24 Seiten
Open access


The state of knowledge in brief

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 farreaching 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 hardto- 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. In terms of nutrition, reducing excessive consumption of meat can both improve health and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With respect to mobility, a shift towards more active mobility such as walking and cycling and public transport, especially in cities, reduces healthrelated pollutants and noise pollution, encourages healthy movement and reduces GHG emissions. Reduction of climate-relevant air traffic also diminishes adverse health effects. With regard to housing, a large proportion of single-family and duplex houses in newly developed residential areas is to be challenged as it uses a lot of space, materials and energy. Attractive apartment buildings as an alternative to a house in a green area require funding and promotion by health-enhancing and climate-friendly urban planning. Thermal renovation reduces the heat stress during the summer half-year. Likewise, health-care activities contribute to climate change and reducing the carbon footprint of the healthcare sector is necessary. In fact, pharmaceutical products are responsible for a major share of the carbon footprint. Avoiding unnecessary diagnostics and therapies, for instance, can reduce GHG emissions, risks for patients and health-related costs.

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.

Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
Austrian Academy of Sciences Press
A-1011 Wien, Dr. Ignaz Seipel-Platz 2
Tel. +43-1-515 81/DW 3402-3406, Fax +43-1-515 81/DW 3400
https://verlag.oeaw.ac.at, e-mail: verlag@oeaw.ac.at

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Austrian Special ReportHealth, Demography and Climate Change Summary for Policymakers


ISBN 978-3-7001-8430-0
Print Edition
ISBN 978-3-7001-8598-7
Online Edition



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Austrian Academy of Sciences Press
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Willi HAAS - Hanns MOSHAMMER - Raya MUTTARAK - Olivia KOLAND (Hg.)


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

Austrian Panel on Climate Change (APCC)
Austrian Special Report 2018 (ASR18)



ISBN 978-3-7001-8430-0
Print Edition
ISBN 978-3-7001-8598-7
Online Edition

2019,  24 Seiten
Open access


The state of knowledge in brief

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 farreaching 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 hardto- 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. In terms of nutrition, reducing excessive consumption of meat can both improve health and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With respect to mobility, a shift towards more active mobility such as walking and cycling and public transport, especially in cities, reduces healthrelated pollutants and noise pollution, encourages healthy movement and reduces GHG emissions. Reduction of climate-relevant air traffic also diminishes adverse health effects. With regard to housing, a large proportion of single-family and duplex houses in newly developed residential areas is to be challenged as it uses a lot of space, materials and energy. Attractive apartment buildings as an alternative to a house in a green area require funding and promotion by health-enhancing and climate-friendly urban planning. Thermal renovation reduces the heat stress during the summer half-year. Likewise, health-care activities contribute to climate change and reducing the carbon footprint of the healthcare sector is necessary. In fact, pharmaceutical products are responsible for a major share of the carbon footprint. Avoiding unnecessary diagnostics and therapies, for instance, can reduce GHG emissions, risks for patients and health-related costs.

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.



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Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
Austrian Academy of Sciences Press
A-1011 Wien, Dr. Ignaz Seipel-Platz 2
Tel. +43-1-515 81/DW 3402-3406, Fax +43-1-515 81/DW 3400
https://verlag.oeaw.ac.at, e-mail: verlag@oeaw.ac.at