Why we need to act

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

If the global average temperature rises more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, significant negative impacts of climate change will be more likely and the cost of managing them will rise sharply.

A leaked draft of a second report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due in March 2014, suggests climate change will cause heatwaves, droughts, disrupt crop growth, aggravate poverty and expose hundreds of millions of people to coastal floods as seas rise.

  • That's why the UK Climate Act 2008 set a target to cut emissions by 40% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050.

The Industrial Revolution led to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.

  • The Earth’s surface has consequently warmed by about 0.8°C since around 1900, with much of this warming occurring in the past 50 years.
  • To have a 50% chance of keeping climate change to within 2°C of pre-industrial levels, global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak before 2020 and then decline steeply.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported in November 2013 that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2012, continuing an upward and accelerating trend which is driving climate change.

And it said that 2013 is on course to be among the top 10 warmest years since modern records began in 1850. Read the World Metereological Organization's statement on the status of climate in 2013.

LEAP - global warming