Climate Change

Polar bear on ice cap

What is climate change?

Climate change is the large-scale, long-term shift in the planet's weather patterns and average temperatures. It is one of the biggest challenges of our generation. Scientific evidence tells us that the impacts of climate change are rapidly becoming severe.

Gases that we release into the atmosphere can cause the climate to change. Carbon dioxide - also known as CO₂ - is produced when we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. Fossil fuels are used to power cars and aeroplanes, and to produce electricity for homes and the factories that make our toys, clothes and electronic gadgets.

When carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere it causes the greenhouse effect. It traps heat in the atmosphere so that the Earth keeps getting hotter and hotter - just like what happens in a greenhouse. The increase in the Earth’s temperature is called global warming.

Since the industrial revolution, human activities have driven up the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere by 48%, and this unprecedented speed of change leaves nature and mankind little time to adapt.

To keep global temperatures from rising irreversibly, we must all take steps to deliver short, medium and long-term change in our lives.

The effects of global warming

Global warming can affect the planet in different ways. Last year (2023) we experienced:

  • The hottest year on record globally
  • Second hottest year on record for the UK
  • The worlds average temperature reached a new high three times in one week
  • Heatwaves and wildfires across Canada, the USA and Europe
  • Flooding in Africa, Libya, and Australia
  • Deadly extreme storms across Europe and Asia
  • Antarctic sea ice at an all time low
  • Arctic sea ice below average
  • Highest recorded sea surface temperature
  • England had the wettest 18 months since records began in 1836

What can we do?

If we are responsible for causing climate change which is harming our planet, we can also be responsible for reducing the effects of global warming. There are lots of things that we can do. 

How you can help


You can find a range of tools, advice, data and sources through our resources directory

Our Climate Change Action Plan

We have an action plan that sets out actions we and our partners are taking to tackle climate change.

View our climate change action plan