Global warming 'poses serious threat to health'

The impacts of climate change on health are a "very real and present danger", Health Secretary Andy Burnham has warned at the launch of a new report on how rising temperatures will affect the public.

The impacts of climate change on health are a "very real and present danger", Health Secretary Andy Burnham has warned at the launch of a new report on how rising temperatures will affect the public.

The study, published ahead of UN talks on tackling climate change in Copenhagen next month, is calling on health ministers and professionals around the world to recognise the danger global warming poses to health.

But putting health at the centre of action on climate change could deliver twin benefits of preventing illness and cutting emissions, the report from the Lancet said.

Changes in transport to cut carbon from vehicles could reduce urban air pollution, which can cause heart and breathing problems, and physical inactivity which contributes to obesity.

Insulating houses not only makes them more energy efficient but could reduce the number of deaths from extremes of cold and hot weather.

And reducing the amount of meat people eat will cut the impact of livestock on the climate while also improving diet by lowering the amount of saturated fat people eat.

Burnham said: "Climate change can seem a distant, impersonal threat - in fact the associated costs to health are a very real and present danger.

"Health ministers across the globe must act now to highlight the risk global warming poses to our communities. We need well-designed climate change policies that drive health benefits."

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said global warming was a serious threat to public health and an ambitious deal to cut climate emissions needed to be reached at crunch UN climate talks next month in Copenhagen.

"To protect the world's health we must stop dangerous climate change happening and limit temperature increases to no more than 2°C.

"An ambitious and fair deal in Copenhagen will not only have major benefits in terms of reducing the climate change-related spread of infectious diseases and risks to food supply, but will also result in immediate green benefits in terms of a healthier environment and lifestyle for a low carbon Britain - and a low carbon world.

"This is why we are going to Copenhagen to secure an ambitious, effective and fair deal for everyone," he said.

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