The Earth's climate is changing. Global temperatures are projected to continue rising, bringing changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather for the UK. The extent of change will depend greatly on how successfully we cut our greenhouse gas emissions.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) state:
“The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future”
Read the special report from the IPCC on global warming.
Adapting to climate change means changing the way we do things – in all areas of our lives – to respond to the changing environmental circumstances. It means not only protecting against negative impacts, but also making us better able to take advantage of any opportunities.
The Climate Change Act 2008 set a target of 80% reduction in UK carbon emissions based on 1990 levels. The Committee on Climate Change states that UK emissions were 43% below 1990 levels in 2017.
More recently, however, the independent Committee on Climate Change published a report at the request of the UK, Wales and Scotland governments. Net Zero – The UK’s Contribution To Stopping Global Warming finds that the UK should aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In October 2017, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published The Clean Growth Strategy: leading the way to a low carbon future. The purpose of the strategy was to plan for the UK’s economy to continue to grow, whilst still reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In July 2018 the Department for Transport published The Road to Zero: Next steps towards cleaner road transport and delivering our industrial strategy. The Road to Zero forms part of the UK government's approach to tackling greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It focusses on cutting emissions from petrol and diesel vehicle exhausts, which account for almost 25% of total UK greenhouse gas production.
In January 2019, the government published its Clean Air Strategy. It sets out plans for dealing with all sources of air pollution, making our air healthier to breathe, protecting nature and boosting the economy.