Germany tells its cities to ‘do more’ to protect children against the sun’s harmful rays

Cities and municipalities in Germany must act quickly to provide better protection to children from ultra violet (UV) radiation, which is increasing as a result of climate change.

That was the warning from the country’s environment ministry and the office for radiation protection, as it launched a public campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of exposure to the sun.

It comes after a survey of Germany’s cities found that while many considered protection from UV to be very important, only a quarter had put in place any future protection measures, such as tree planting or sun sails.

Christian Kühn, State Secretary for the Environment, said: “The number of sunshine hours has been increasing for years due to the worsening climate crisis, and with it the risk of UV-related health damage such as skin cancer.

‘Whoever seeks shade must find shade’

“The federal, state and local governments must also take precautions in this area to protect people from the consequences of the climate crisis,” Kühn added.

Inge Paulini, President of the Radiation Office, a branch of government dedicated to examining how society can best tackle radiation, called for more shade to be made available in key locations such as kindergartens, nurseries, schools, playgrounds, public squares and sporting area. “Whoever seeks shade must find shade,” she added.

A survey of 1,000 city and municipality mayors revealed that many consider targeted UV protection for the population to be important or very important (58 per cent), yet only 25 per cent of the cities and municipalities had implemented UV protection measures. Around 71 per cent said they felt ‘poorly informed’ about UV protection measures in municipalities.

As part of the UV exposure campaign, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, has made information available for key decision-makers in areas like childcare settings, schools and sports clubs, suggesting ways in which they can incorporate basic sun protection policies into their day to day activities and structures.

‘Not acting now will result in greater human costs later’

The Germany government says that even 15 years after its first climate adaptation strategy, and despite deadly floods and droughts, it is still failing to integrate climate adaptation into everyday decision-making at all levels. Yet there is a ‘growing awareness that not acting now will result in much greater financial and human costs in the future’.

Click here for more information (in German only) on the survey about UV radiation

Author: Simon Weedy

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