New analysis on anticipated effects of climate change on the UK

Rebecca Gibbs's picture

This is the second of a series of five-yearly assessments of climate change risks and opportunities produced by the Committee on Climate Change for the UK as a whole and also separately for the devolved nations.  Alongside analysis of the existing research and a call for evidence, the report draws on input and feedback from stakeholder events held across the UK. 

1. The picture now - UK land and sea temperatures have increased in line with what is being observed globally, giving us milder winters and hotter summers.  Recent severe and sustained rainfall are consistent with climate change projections.

2. Expected temperature rises from mitigation promised or underway - Current commitments resulting from international negotiations are commensurate with a 2.7C global temperature rise. However uncertainties in climate sensitivity mean that a 4°C rise by 2100 cannot be ruled out.

3. Top UK risks - The report distils down the key risks to the top six groups of interrelated risks (pictured) which point to the need for the coordinated steps that need to be taken in the next five years. 

4. Risks in detail - The report considers:

  • Risks to the UK from climate change overseas impacting on global trade, the movement of people and capital and the creation of conflict for shared scarce resources

  • Cross-cutting risks that may change the capacity of communities, businesses, infrastructure providers and national and local government to act quickly and effectively. 

  • Changing vulnerability in relation to shifts in demography, the location and design of new buildings. 

  • The impact of adaptation measures in the UK. 

5. Opportunities - The report identifies the following possible benfits:

  • Milder winter impacts on additional heating costs and winter deaths.  However, it is anticipated that cold weather will remain a significant health risk without action on housing stock. 

  • Improved yields in the UK and possible benefits from increased CO2 fertilisation if natural resources are correctly managed. 

  • Positive economic potential from increased demand in adaptation goods and services and a rise in UK tourism.

The risk of a deterioration in air quality and threats to infrastructure from raised temperatures and high winds are also highlighted.

Alongside the full report, the Climate on Climate Change’s website hosts a range of resources relating to this work including a slide set and video.   These can be found at:

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