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Our climate change challenge

Urgent action is needed to prevent further global warming and we all have a part to play.

Our aim is to reduce emissions generated by the county council to net-zero by 2032 or sooner and help the rest of Derbyshire reduce carbon emissions generated within the county to net zero by 2050 or sooner. This is in line with national government targets.

Our net zero target

Net zero means reducing our carbon emissions right down to the lowest possible level and off-setting those that cannot be cut through measures such as planting more trees and other forms of habitat creation to absorb excess carbon from the atmosphere, making the overall net emissions zero.

Global warming is likely to reach at least 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 (compared to pre-industrial levels) if warming continues to increase at the current rate. So we need to act now to keep UK temperatures and rainfall close to manageable levels and avoid further, potentially more catastrophic, impacts.

How the climate has changed

The UK's climate is already showing signs of change:

  • average annual temperatures are now around 1°C warmer than the pre-industrial period
  • the 10 warmest years since 1884 have all occurred since 2002
  • average annual rainfall levels have increased by 5% since 1961 to 1990
  • the average number of annual days with very heavy rainfall have increased by 17% from 1961 to 1990
  • whilst we have experienced some heavy snow events in recent years (in 2018, 2013, 2010 and 2009), they have happened less often since the 1960s
  • sea levels around the UK have risen by an average of 17cm since the start of the 20th century

Changes expected in the future

As the world warms, the UK is likely to have hotter, drier simmers and warmer, wetter winters according to the UK Met Office. Extreme weather events such as heatwaves and heavy downpours are likely to become more frequent and more intense.

The UK Climate Projections 2018 (UKCP18) predicts that, based on current global emissions reduction trends and expectations, the climate of Derbyshire will be affected in the following ways by the 2080s.


  • the average annual temperature across the county will increase by around 3°C
  • summer temperatures across the county will increase, with the temperature regularly reaching 37°C in the south of the county and 33°C at higher altitudes in the north
  • the number of days each year when the temperature is below 0°C will decrease with ice and snow becoming increasingly rare events


  • average annual rainfall amounts will remain largely unchanged from current levels, however, there would be likely to be considerable change in when rainfall occurs
  • summers will be much drier, particularly in the south and central parts of the county
  • winters will become wetter, particularly in the north of the county
  • there will be an increase in the numbers of days per year when there is very little or no rain, as well as days with very heavy rain

There will be an increase in the numbers of days per year when there is very little or no rain, and also very heavy rain.

How we tackle climate change

We're already seeing the impacts of climate change, but the level of global warming we reach and by when will depend primarily on the concentration of carbon emissions (and other greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere.

To reduce carbon emissions is a big challenge but the benefits are massive. Changes we make now will help global issues like protecting our marine life from rising sea temperatures, and local issues too like preventing recent severe weather events from happening more regularly.

Action on climate change and reducing emissions can benefit our communities in other ways than global warming. It can also reduce our energy consumption that will lower energy bills, unlock low carbon technologies and innovation that supports local economies and increases the number of jobs. Climate change action can also help our health and wellbeing by reducing fuel poverty, avoiding flood damage costs and disruption, enhancing green spaces and improving air quality.

As well as reducing emissions, we need to be better prepared to deal with the effects of a changing climate. Severe weather such as heat waves, storms and heavy and prolonged rainfall has significant effects on our infrastructure and ecosystems. To protect these, we need to take action to ensure our infrastructure is robust and our biodiversity and natural resources are protected and enhanced.

At a local level, reducing the amount of carbon emissions generated in Derbyshire is really important and a priority focus for the council, but it isn't something we can do on our own. We need the whole county to get involved.

With our partners, we're working with people in communities, businesses, local councils, interest groups across Derbyshire and the UK government to play our part and reduce carbon emissions in Derbyshire to net zero.

Find out how we will achieve carbon zero and how you can get involved.