I attended a very interesting seminar yesterday at the House of Lords exploring the impact of environmental change in the context of demographic change. Earlier this year, Simon Evans of the University of the West of England, produced the first joint ILC-UK/BSG think piece, ‘Climate Change and Sustainable Public Services’. In the paper, Dr Simon Evans notes that Government policy for the public sector includes a strong focus on addressing climate change and promoting sustainability in the commissioning and delivery of services. However, he argues that whilst a range of strategies and tools have been developed to address these issues in health services, the sustainability agenda is far less developed in the social care sector. Simon presented the findings of his research, and was followed by responses from Dr David Pencheon of the Sustainable Development Unit in the NHS and James Goodwin of Age UK.
Here are just some of the very interesting points which emerged:
- Moving to sustainable practices requires large scale change – too many people believe becoming more sustainable is about being more efficient but this is not the whole story – it is also about doing things differently
- Older people have been neglected in the wider picture of climate change and need to be incorporated into research and dialogues
- New approaches to housing stock will have to address single occupancy of large homes in relation to the inherent difficulties of retrofitting of older, listed, properties
- It is important we don’t restrict this to a national perspective
One final important take home message came from a meteorologist – remember the heatwave of 2003 when there were nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths in France? By 2060 that particular summer of 2003 will be regarded as a cool one, unless we change things now.