14349772_shomeUK: Climate change could contribute to a more than three-fold increase in heat-related deaths in the UK by the 2050s and increase the demand for air conditioning, a new report claims.

The study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health indicates that health protection from hot weather will become increasingly necessary this century.

The study looked at current temperature-mortality relationships by region and age group. These were then applied to the local climate and population projections to estimate temperature-related deaths for the UK by the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s. A significantly raised risk of heat-related and cold-related mortality was observed in all regions and was partly driven by projected population growth and ageing.

The elderly were most at risk and in the absence of any adaptation of the population, heat-related deaths would be expected to rise by around 257% by the 2050s from a current annual baseline of around 2000 deaths. Cold-related mortality would decline by 2% from a baseline of around 41,000 deaths.

Health protection from hot weather will become increasingly necessary, says the report. Air conditioning is likely to become more widespread and this increased reliance on active cooling systems in houses, hospitals and care homes could exacerbate energy consumption, climate change and the urban heat island effect. Furthermore, power outages during hot weather could heighten vulnerability among people accustomed to air conditioned environments.