Magazine ed*
ed* Nr. 02/2023

The gap between socio-economic status and health opportunities must not be allowed to widen further

ed* Nr. 02/2023 – Chapter 12

© 2023 HorstWagner.euFrank Siebern-Thomas, Head of Division for Fair Green and Digital Transition and Research in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

Climate change brings new inequalities together with existing inequalities. We have a massive social and societal transformation ahead of us. The green deal must also be a social deal.

The European Commission has set itself the task of driving forward the transformation agenda. The “Green Deal” obliges. What does this mean for the health and social care systems? Now, on the one hand: social aspects are taken into account. For example, the ‘Fit for 55’ package of measures for the green transition commits the EU to ensuring a fair and socially just transition in achieving its climate goals. It must be taken into account that climate change has an unequal impact not only on regions, but also on people: Those on low incomes, those with previous illnesses, the elderly and adolescents are hit harder than others by the consequences of climate change. They cannot afford the higher prices for food and energy as a result of the CO2  (carbon) pricing, live in cramped or poorly insulated living conditions, have an impaired physical or psychological constitution or are exposed to stressful situations for longer and more frequently – in construction, agriculture, in poorly insulated production halls. The Fit for 55 package also includes, for example, a climate social fund that aims to support particularly vulnerable citizens and microenterprises in investing in energy efficiency measures and clean mobility. As a result, Member States have agreed to make targeted transfer payments to alleviate disproportionate financial burdens on vulnerable groups. 

© 2023 HorstWagner.euDr Edlyn Höller, Deputy Chief Executive of the German Social Accident Insurance

Heat is a danger to life. For all. It is a problem at work – outdoors as well as indoors. Occupational safety and health is not possible without climate protection.

On the other hand, it should not be exclusively about vulnerable groups. The solidarity-based healthcare system and the statutory accident and pension insurance systems bear responsibility for all their insured persons. And here, too, there is a lack of data, for example on long-term exposure to heat at office workplaces or permanent work in protective clothing.