A decade ago, the UK took a bold step adopting the Climate Change Act, pledging to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
It has been a contributing factor to extremes this year like Spring's Beast from the East and a two-month summer heatwave.
UK weather warning: British summer temperatures to SKYROCKET as climate change HITS
The Climate Change Act committed the UK government by law to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.
This includes reducing emissions from the devolved administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), which currently account for about 20% of the UKs emissions.
Climate change: UK summers to be 5.4C hotter and sea levels to rise 1.15m by 2100
Much of this progress has come from new ways to generate electricity. Coal-fired power plants are being closed as more electricity is produced without burning fossil fuels.
There are plenty of reasons to feel pessimistic about humanitys future. Presented with our greatest ever challenge, scientists and technologists are showing the way forward
Most detailed picture yet of changing climate launched
Last year, for the first time, the majority of the UKs electricity came from renewable or low-carbon sources.
No action on climate change could mean even more extreme weather for the UK
And over the last decade, the UKs economy has continued to grow proving that a move to renewable sources would not harm economic growth.
The Met Office issued a stark warning on Monday that summer temperatures could soar to 5.4C higher than current levels by 2070, while winters could be up to 4.2C warmer if fossil fuel pollution continues.
Rainfall could fall by almost half (47%) in summer by 2070, while rain could be up by more than a third (35%) in winter.
Sea levels affecting London, where the Thames Barrier is expected to be in use to protect the city until 2070, could rise by up to 1.15 metres by 2100 if climate-warming emissions continue to climb.
Cardiff is expected to have similar sea level rises as London, while in Edinburgh seas could rise by as much 49cm with low emissions and up to 90cm with high emissions.
In Belfast, seas could be as much as 52cm higher with low emissions and up to 94cm by the end of the century with high levels of climate pollution.
Climate change has also been a contributing factor to losing, on average, 60% of wildlife populations since 1970.
Drier summers and wetter winters could be coming to the UK
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) believes if we carry on as we are now, then one in six species is at risk of extinction around the world as a result of climate change.
The Committee on Climate Change, a body set up as part of the Act, has said emissions from the UKs transport system, buildings and industry are not falling fast enough.
In addition, emissions from the waste we produce need to be limited and action taken on protecting homes from extreme heat and flooding.
New data gives the most detailed picture yet of temperature, rainfall and sea level rise over next century
• Sea level rise is likely to be greater in the south than the north, with London expected to be in the range of 0.29-0.7m by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions are kept low, but 0.53-1.15m if emissions are high. Edinburgh is likely to experience a rise of only 0.08-0.49m in a low-emissions scenario, and 0.3-0.9m if emissions are high
The UKs most comprehensive picture yet of how the climate could change over the next century has been launched today by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
Most detailed picture yet of UKs future climate
Using the latest science from the Met Office and around the world, the UK Climate Projections 2018 illustrate a range of future climate scenarios until 2100 – showing increasing summer temperatures, more extreme weather and rising sea levels are all on the horizon and urgent international action is needed.
To help homes and businesses plan for the future, the results set out a range of possible outcomes over the next century based on different rates of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The high emission scenario shows:
Sea levels are projected to rise over the 21st century and beyond under all emission scenarios – meaning we can expect to see an increase in both the frequency and magnitude of extreme water levels around the UK coastline.
FLOOD-HIT communities in York are in the “frontline of climate chaos”, Friends of the Earth claimed today.
Rising sea levels and higher temperatures threaten UK, experts warn
The UK already leads the world in tackling climate change – with emissions reduced by more than 40 per cent since 1990. However these projections show a future we could face without further action.
UKCP18 can now be used as a tool to guide decision-making and boost resilience – whether thats through increasing flood defences, designing new infrastructure or adjusting ways of farming for drier summers.
British summers could be 9°F hotter by 2070 sparking more wildfires and water shortages
This cutting-edge science opens our eyes to the extent of the challenge we face, and shows us a future we want to avoid.
The UK is already a global leader in tackling climate change, cutting emissions by more than 40 per cent since 1990 – but we must go further.
By having this detailed picture of our changing climate, we can ensure we have the right infrastructure to cope with weather extremes, homes and businesses can adapt, and we can make decisions for the future accordingly.
Todays projections are the first major update of climate projections in nearly 10 years, building on the success of UKCP09 and ensuring the most up-to-date scientific evidence informs decision-making.
With climate change a global challenge, for the first time, UKCP presents international projections, allowing other nations to use this data to gauge future risks for food supply chains, or check rainfall projections for the likelihood of localised flooding.
Climate change will affect everybody. UKCP18 is designed to help everybody make better decisions, from those buying a house to people making large investments in infrastructure. It has been produced using state-of-the-art methods.
The new science in UKCP18 enables us to move from looking at the trends associated with climate change, to describing how seasonal weather patterns will change. For example, heatwaves like the one we experienced in the summer of 2018 could be normal for the UK by mid-century.
While the UK continues to play a leading role in limiting the causes of global warming and halting temperature rises, some changes to the climate are inevitable. Building on the UK governments long-term plan for adapting to a changing climate, these projections will help businesses, investors, local authorities, industry and individuals plan for a wide range of possible future changes – alongside taking action to reduce the likelihood of the worst-case scenario becoming reality.
Todays announcement also comes as the UK marks the 10th anniversary of its Climate Change Act – the worlds first legally binding legislation to tackle climate change. Just last month the government hosted Green GB Week – a week of action highlighting the economic opportunities from tackling climate change, encouraging communities and businesses to do more.
While these projections highlight the need for further urgent action, since 1990 the UK has cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while growing the economy by more than two thirds, the best performance on a per person basis than any other G7 nation.
These projections from leading UK scientists build on last months report from climate experts, highlighting the stark reality that we must do more to tackle climate change in order to avoid devastating impacts on our health and prosperity.
We are already leading the world in the fight against climate change but we cannot be complacent. As we look towards crucial global climate talks in Poland next week, it is clear that now, more than ever, is the time for collective and ambitious action to tackle this urgent challenge.
While it is not possible to give a precise prediction of how weather and climate will change years into the future, UKCP18 provides a range of outcomes that capture the spread of possible future climates, so we can develop and test robust plans.
The projections will be factored into the UKs flood adaptation planning and the Environment Agencys advice to flood and coastal erosion risk management authorities.
Since 2010 government has invested a record £2.6 billion in flood defences, and we are on track to protect 300,000 more homes from flooding by 2021.
The UK18 projections are further evidence that we will see more extreme weather in the future – we need to prepare and adapt now, climate change impacts are already being felt with the record books being re-written.
It is not too late to act. Working together – governments, business, and communities – we can mitigate the impacts of climate change and adapt to a different future.
The Environment Agency cannot wall up the country, but will be at the forefront – protecting communities, building resilience, and responding to incidents.
UKCP18 has been developed by the Met Office Hadley Centre, in partnership with Defra, BEIS, the Devolved Administrations and the Environment Agency, and has been extensively peer reviewed by an independent science panel.
People and businesses will be able to use UKCP18 to explore the types and magnitude of climate change projected for the future, while government will use the projections to inform its adaptation and mitigation planning and decision-making.
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