Leading older people's charity Help the Aged is challenging the Government to link the twin agendas of an ageing population and climate change. In a new report, 'Towards Common Ground: climate change and an ageing population', the Charity is suggesting that many of the policies which could be used to tackle climate change such as personal carbon accounts and better public transport to cut car use, could bring real benefits to older people.

This comes in a week when a committee of MPs criticised the Government for a 'lack of ambition' on green issues and for not doing enough to put a price on carbon use.

Help the Aged argues that:

- It may be possible for Government to reduce pensioner poverty and cut carbon emissions at the same time. Many pensioners living below the breadline use very little carbon as they rarely take foreign holidays and tend to buy fewer electronic goods. Well designed personal carbon accounts could allow these older people to benefit from their low carbon use by selling their surpluses to business travellers.

- Real investment to update Britain's housing stock with better insulation, heating systems and renewable power sources could not only improve energy efficiency but would also help older people heat their homes, helping to take them out of fuel poverty. This could also help to reduce the shocking number of older people dying each year from avoidable cold related illnesses. - A price on carbon could mean locally sourced food and local shops go from being a luxury to a cheaper form of shopping again. A Government drive to reduce food miles could reverse the decline in local services and thereby benefit older people.

Anna Pearson, policy manager for Help the Aged, says: "Climate change and growing older are now two certainties facing all of us. For the Government, these twin agendas pose both a threat but also a very real opportunity.

"The economic cost of climate change coupled with the increased cost of providing pensions and long term care to an ageing population will cause serious fiscal challenges. But the very policies created to tackle climate change may also help to ensure our communities serve older people better. What's needed is an imaginative approach to deal with both in a positive way.

"Our challenge to Government is to ensure it sees the bigger picture and, going forward, considers both the 'green and the grey'."

Older people barely merit a mention within the Government's Climate Change Strategy. Adair Turner, who previously led the review on pensions, has been appointed to lead the independent committee on climate change. Help the Aged hopes this is the start of joined up thinking on how environmental policies could actually improve the lives of older people.

For a full copy of 'Towards Common Ground: climate change and an ageing population', please download Towards common ground (PDF,1MB).

Help the Aged is the charity fighting to free disadvantaged older people in the UK and overseas from poverty, isolation, neglect and ageism. It campaigns to raise public awareness of the issues affecting older people and to bring about policy change. The Charity delivers a range of services: information and advice, home support and community living, including international development work. These are supported by its paid-for services and fundraising activities - which aim to increase funding in the future to respond to the growing unmet needs of disadvantaged older people. Help the Aged also funds vital research into the health issues and experiences of older people to improve the quality of later life.

Help the Aged urgently needs donations and support to help it in the increasingly challenging fight to free disadvantaged older people from poverty, isolation and neglect.

Help the Aged

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