Climate Change & Health Inequalities

The climate and ecological crises affects us all, but the impacts are not felt equally. Wider determinants of health such as housing, air pollution, the type of food available, transport options, local services, access to green space and education all have major impacts on our health, but they are unequally distributed. 

People living in areas of high deprivation, marginalised groups such as refugees and asylum seekers, people with disabilities and those experiencing homelessness are more likely to experience health inequalities. In the UK, people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are more likely to live in polluted areas, experience poverty and have poorer access to healthcare

Different life experiences and opportunities lead to major, avoidable and unfair inequalities in health. For example, men living in the poorest areas of the UK die over 9 years earlier than men from the least deprived areas (7 years earlier in women).

The climate crisis can’t be addressed effectively without also tackling underlying socio-economic and racial inequalities.  This means we need fairer public policies, anti-racism and action to address other forms of discrimination and exclusion. 

Many of the causes of climate change disproportionately affect marginalised communities, contributing to higher rates of health problems like heart and lung diseases. For example:

Globally, these inequalities are magnified – climate change is disproportionately impacting people in the global South, with rising temperatures and sea levels, more frequent natural disasters, and food insecurity causing serious harm already, and their impacts are often worsened by structural drivers of inequality, racism and other forms of discrimination, and the legacies of colonisalism.

Further Resources