The effects of climate change on human health can already be felt today. More frequent and prolonged heat waves affect our health, well-being and sometimes lead to death. In recent years, increasing UV radiation has led to an increase in skin cancers caused by UV radiation. New pandemics are also possible in the future. Due to climate change, pathogens and their carriers such as mosquitoes or ticks can continue to advance, multiply and establish themselves. As a result, new infectious diseases such as West Nile fever can occur in Germany. Global warming, also in connection with high levels of air pollutants, favor and increase the occurrence of respiratory diseases. Pollen allergies are on the rise as climate change makes plants flower earlier and longer and also affects pollen levels.
In order to strengthen the resilience of people and the health system to climate change, measures to adapt to climate change play an important role, for which the Federal Ministry of Health is intensively committed. The cooperation of the various actors plays an important role in this. Interdisciplinary networking and research on climate change and health as well as the international consolidation of scientific evidence are also promoted in order to do justice to the cross-sectional character of the task.
In addition, the focus is on reducing emissions in the healthcare sector, because according to estimates, the healthcare sector contributes around 5% to German greenhouse gas emissions. In order to achieve the legally anchored climate neutrality by 2045, a contribution from the healthcare system to the transformation is also required. On the other hand, climate protection measures contribute to human health in the sense of health promotion and prevention, for example in the area of promoting physical activity by supporting pedestrian and bicycle traffic or in the area of nutrition by promoting plant-based nutrition.