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Table 3.4  The five shared Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) SSP


Socio-economic challenges for adaptation and mitigation

Likelihood of attaining SDG 3 health targets


Sustainable development




Middle of the road




Regional rivalry








Fossil-fuelled development

Low for adaptation, high for mitigation

+++ (except those targets sensitive to fossil fuel use)

Analysis adapted from Sellers and Ebi (2018).

interconnected world. A set of five global pathways describing potential alternative socio-economic futures has been developed and these plausible futures imply a range of challenges for climate change mitigation and adaptation (EEA 2017a). The effects of different Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) (EEA 2017a; see also Table 3.4) have been explored by Sellers and Ebi (2018) in terms of the various dimensions of health systems and their potential to support attainment of SDG targets. However, these interpretations need further consideration: as noted throughout this EASAC report, our concern is that increasing climate change undermines progress in health and Table 3.4 may be an overly optimistic assessment. Other SDGs with implications for health such as SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) are likely to be affected in similar ways to SDG 3 (Table 3.4). In terms of SSP impacts on the performance of health systems under climate change, the global analysis of Sellers and Ebi (2018) delineates various essential aspects: •

leadership and governance, for example in responding to infectious disease outbreaks;

health workforce, for example for training on environmental health and disease impacts associated with climate change;

health information systems, for example early warning and risk monitoring systems;

essential medical products and technologies, for example climate-resilient infrastructure and supply chains;

service delivery, for example managing environmental determinants of health, creating climate-informed health programmes, developing robust emergency preparedness, and adjusting service delivery, including mental health provision, for those particularly susceptible;


climate and health funding, requiring continued attention of policy-makers and sustaining global partnerships.

Mapping of SSP–climate effects on health and health services needs to be further characterised for the EU region overall (EEA 2017a) and, within the EU region, to compare how different countries fare under different SSPs. Quantifying changes in mortality and morbidity under different SSPs across the EU region could provide essential information for the policy-maker seeking how best to allocate resources under climate change. The principal dimensions of development pathways that are important to modify to reduce health effects include the following: •

tackling inequality and building social capital;

increasing resources spent on health protection and social care;

improving physical infrastructure’ for example housing quality and urban design to lessen city heat-island effects.

In the EU, there are relevant issues for linking climate change mitigation with the objectives of a circular economy (Appendix 3): climate change will necessitate progress towards a circular economy, given the large emissions linked to current EU patterns of consumption. This progress will include re-manufacturing, re-use, recycling of products and raw materials, and reducing material flows into the EU economy. The objectives of a circular economy must be operationalised for EU health and for curtailing the export of health problems to the rest of the world, for example through export of toxic waste for processing. Broader issues in support of EU resilience and progress to sustainable prosperity rather than indefinite gross domestic product (GDP) growth will be discussed further in Chapter 4.

Climate change and health  |  June 2019  |  31

The imperative of climate action to protect human health in Europe  

Opportunities for adaptation to reduce the impacts and for mitigation to capitalise on the benefits of decarbonisation. The pace and extent...

The imperative of climate action to protect human health in Europe  

Opportunities for adaptation to reduce the impacts and for mitigation to capitalise on the benefits of decarbonisation. The pace and extent...