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Climate change and sustainability

Impacts of climate change

Climate change is already affecting the world. The Earth's temperature is rising, rainfall patterns are shifting and sea levels are rising. Heatwaves, floods, droughts and fires may become more common as a result of these changes.

The effects of climate change are already causing health problems through air pollution, disease, extreme weather events, forced displacement, mental health strains and increased hunger and poor nutrition in areas where people cannot grow or find enough food. Major climate change impacts throughout the world are:

  • hotter temperatures
  • more severe storms
  • increased drought
  • a warming, rising ocean
  • loss of species
  • not enough food
  • more health risks
  • poverty and displacement

Climate change impact in the UK

Temperatures in the UK exceeded 40°C for the first time on record in the summer of 2022, and extreme weather events are likely to become more common. In 50 years' time, by 2070, the Met Office (the national meteorological service for the UK) projects that:

  • Winter will be between 1 and 4.5°C warmer and up to 30% wetter
  • Summer will be between 1 and 6°C warmer and up to 60% drier

Further effects of climate change in the UK are:

  • heatwaves, like that of summer 2018, are now 30 times more likely to happen due to climate change
  • parts of the UK will be in danger of flooding, with low lying and coastal cities at particular risk
  • climate change will also have an impact on farming in the UK - hotter weather and higher CO2 levels may make some crops easier to grow, or even allow us to develop new ones; however, with more droughts expected, water may become more difficult to obtain, making it more difficult for farmers to plan the growing season. Some crops grown today may be unsuitable for higher temperatures as well

You can find out more about climate change in your local area in this climate change visualisation tool.

Last modified on 27 July 2023

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