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1. Impact of Climate Change

The Global Impact of Climate Change

There is worldwide political consensus that we are experiencing a climate emergency, and there is an urgent need to curb carbon emissions to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (‘IPCC’) is the United Nations body established to assess the science related to climate change.  The IPCC released a report in March 2022, expressing growing concern for a “rapidly closing window” of time to act on the climate emergency.

Limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels could limit the most dangerous and irreversible effects of climate change. 

The impact of exceeding the 1.5 degree target is profound and will be felt across every region of the world.  The IPCC highlights increasing heat, extreme weather, flooding, water shortages, disruption to food chains, migration and extinction of species, wildfires, reduced air quality and deteriorating health.  The trajectory (post COP 26) is estimated to hold temperatures to a minimum of a 1.8 degree rise, so there is a need for urgent action. 

Climate Change in the UK

Climate change is causing warming across the UK.  According to the Met Office, all of the UK’s ten warmest years on record have occurred since 2002.   The hottest day recorded in the UK came in July 2022, with 40.3C measured in Lincolnshire. 

1 An easy read summary of the IPCC findings can be found at the following link.

The Impact of Climate Change in Wales

A chart showing the average temperature change in Wales since 1884.  The temperature is represented by coloured stripes.  Blue stripes show a cooling of the temperature and red stripes show warming.  The chart is predominantly blue until the mid 1990s after which it becomes increasingly red, showing that average temperatures are rising in Wales.

Data is from the #showyourstripes website

Climate Change in Wales

The Future Trends Report 2021 identifies that in Wales, there is a high probability that unprecedented weather events including coastal storms, flooding, heatwaves, and droughts will increase in the years ahead.  Summers are projected to be warmer (1.34 0C warmer by 2050) and drier, winters milder and wetter (increased precipitation of 5% by 2050) and sea levels predicted to rise across the country by up to 24cm by 2050.  Further, the impact of climate change will not be felt equally – economically and socially disadvantaged people will be disproportionately impacted with existing inequalities likely to be compounded. 

It should be noted that actions on climate change also have the potential to adversely impact or exclude economically and socially disadvantaged people.  For example, the actions might require or result in higher costs.

The 2019 State of Nature Report identified that 8% of extant species for which sufficient data are available are formally classified as threatened and at risk of extinction.  There has been a 52% decline in the average species’ abundance of butterflies since 1976.  The Welsh marine environment is also under pressure and a range of marine protected areas are being established to ensure that sites are appropriately managed to preserve biodiversity.