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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Climate change: a quick guide

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the planet – and everyone can do something about it. From turning the thermostat down to buying a more economical car, there are many steps you can take to help safeguard the planet's future.

What is climate change?

'Climate change' means the increase in the Earth’s average temperature since the beginning of the 20th century and its impacts now and in the future. Since about 1900, the average near-surface temperature of the planet has increased by 0.75 degrees Celsius and the UK's sea level has risen by about 10 centimetres. Further global rises are expected, as well as more extreme weather events like flooding and drought.

The causes of climate change

Individuals are responsible for about 40 per cent of UK emissions

There is very strong evidence that recent global warming can't be explained by natural causes alone. Humans are changing the climate by their actions, especially through emissions of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, which artificially warm the Earth's atmosphere.

The effects of climate change

The effects of climate change include rising temperatures, higher sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events like storms and heatwaves. These are expected to become more severe in coming decades. For more information on the predicted consequences of climate change, see 'Effects of climate change'.

Actions by individuals have already helped the UK meet its targets for cutting emissions by 2010. What people do now and in coming decades to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will determine the level of future impacts.

Calculate your carbon footprint

Use the carbon calculator to find out your carbon footprint

Individuals are responsible for about 40 per cent of emissions in the UK. The biggest sources are energy use in the home, driving and air travel. Use the carbon calculator to work out how much carbon dioxide you create and find out simple ways to reduce your impact on the environment.

Challenging climate change myths

Isn’t the climate constantly changing? There’s no scientific evidence for climate change, is there? Isn’t it too late to make a difference? Confusion about climate change is widespread. Explore some of the most common misconceptions and the facts behind them.

What you can do about climate change

The European Union has proposed that global temperature rises need to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid dangerous climate change. This can be achieved by cutting emissions, and there are many ways you can help achieve this.

What’s being done about climate change

People all over the UK have been working to tackle climate change. They have pledged to lower their own emissions and even decided to make their village, town or football team carbon neutral.

In 2008 the UK passed the Climate Change Act to tackle the dangers of climate change.

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Wildfire advice

Preventing wildfires, keeping safe in the countryside and what to do if you spot a fire

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