Climate Change: Working from home, Physical Activity and Human Health

by Wesport Climate Change


As many of us continue to work from home, or have significantly reduced access to the office we question whether working from home can be more or less environmentally friendly. Coupled with an understanding of the interconnection between climate change and human health and the impact it could have on millions raises more questions. As an Active Partnership we have created our Commitment to Climate Change Campaign to raise information and pose questions to help create a change. This week is also Love to Ride’s: Ride Green week. They have acknowledged the impact swapping cars for handlebars can have on the environment. Visit their website here for simple ways and incentives to get started.

Climate change and the impact on human health?

Scientists and organisations have outlined the implications of climate change on human health and the efforts of mitigating these, which can be targeted as a dual benefit to both the planet and humans (6-8). Unfortunately, with an ever-warming planet the impact on basic necessities such as fresh water, food, energy, sea levels rising and extreme weather is inevitable (5). Therefore, working as a population to ensure these impacts are mitigated is essential and also plays a crucial part in keeping healthy. Some examples can be as simple as using public transport or active travel (walk or bike), to get to your destination. This reduces the emissions of air pollutants (co2 and Carbon Monoxide) from your vehicle and also improving your own physical wellbeing by being active while benefitting from having less pollutants in the air. Decarbonising your daily lifestyle and reducing how sedentary you are will continue to play a positive effect on our climate and therefore your health.

Here are some ideas:

  • Exercise outside so your lights are not on?
  • Head out for a walk and listen to some music?
  • Why don’t you read instead of watching a TV series?
  • Make sure you buy fruit and veg in season?
  • Do you run a sports club? Try to encourage active travel and have safe bike lock ups available.

Small changes can have a big impact!
If you are a sports organisation why don’t you check out sport England’s information on environmental sustainability and make sure your projects are as environmentally sustainable as possible. Click here to read more.

Working from home- more environmentally friendly or less?

Another key point to raise and something that has come to light significantly through the current COVID climate is the increase of home working. This may have saved you money on your commute, the office is not using any energy consumption and you may be eating and exercising better as you are not travelling either end of the day. However research from WSP UK, a London-based consulting firm specialising in engineering, shows that remote work in the UK may only be more environmentally friendly in the summer. Looking at working from home in the winter, each employee must heat their own house compared to one office building. This is just one example, and an understanding of the full remote working footprint would be needed to make future recommendations. But you could look at just heating the room you work in?

Looking to the future, could a mixture of the two (office working versus home working) be a solution?

Many questions have been raised but hopefully this will allow you to think more about climate change, working from home and your own health. The need to look after our planet, our physical and mental health, especially in this continuing challenging time is important, and something we can all do.

5. Haines A, Smith KR, Anderson D, et al. Policies for accelerating access to clean energy, improving health, advancing development, and mitigating climate change. Lancet. 2007;370(9594):1264-1281. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61257-4.
6.Canadian Public Health Association. Policy and position statement: Climate Change and Human Health. Published October 2, 2019. Accessed February 27, 2020.
7.Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Fifth Assessment Report. Published October 2014. Accessed February 27, 2020.
8.Wang H, Horton R. Tackling climate change: the greatest opportunity for global health. Lancet. 2015;386(10006):1798-1799. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60931-X.


Useful Links

Climate Change Commitment

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