UK's poorest will be hit hardest by climate change

By staff writers
January 12, 2009

The poorest in the UK will be hit hardest by climate change, a new report has warned.

A study by a coalition of environmental and social justice groups said poor housing, health, lack of home insurance and less money to adapt will mean they are worst hit.

But the coalition, led by Oxfam and think tank the New Economics Foundation (NEF), said tackling climate change also offered huge opportunities for cutting poverty in the UK if global warming and poverty were tackled together.

As things stand those who live in lower quality, less energy-efficient housing, have less access to insurance in case of floods or storm damage and less money to adapt to higher prices of fuel and food, stand to be hit hardest.

The poorest section of society also suffers from less healthy conditions and worse access to healthcare - which could leave them more vulnerable to impacts on health of rising temperatures such as increases in infectious diseases.

Even measures to combat climate change, such as higher taxation on fossil fuels, could worsen their situation, the report said.
For example, improving home insulation cuts carbon emissions from energy use as well as reducing energy bills and the number of people in fuel poverty.

But moves to a low carbon economy could stimulate new opportunities in jobs such as installing installation, while better public transport could cut air pollution and improve health as well as provide better mobility for poor people.
The coalition, which also includes Friends of the Earth and the Royal College of Nursing, said the Government must tackle poverty and climate change together and take action now to deal with the two issues.

Andrew Simms, policy director of NEF, said: "Climate change will hit the poorest people in Britain first and worst, unless the Government tackles poverty and global warming together.

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