Climate change

Extreme weather

Although research is sparse, published evidence so far indicates that extreme weather can have severe and long-lasting effects on health.

A Commission White Paper on the Adaptation to the Climate Change outlines a series of countermeasures to be taken by the Commission and member governments, including:

  • developing tools to monitor and predict extreme weather events
  • modelling health impacts
  • integrating extreme weather health action plans into national climate-change adaptation strategies


Heat waves in Europe (e.g. in 2003) cause many to become sick and/or die – with the elderly, chronically ill and isolated most at risk.

The main EU-funded project was EuroHEAT, which quantified the health effects of heat in European cities and identified options for improving health systems' preparedness and response.


Flooding is one of the most widespread climatic hazards and poses multiple health risks, but little research has been done on this, or the way vulnerable populations and health systems respond.

Cold spells

Cold weather can cause even more deaths than heat (from heart and respiratory diseases and strokes), although heatwaves have recently received more media attention.

People suffering from flu, and people from lower social classes / poorer countries are the most vulnerable.