What is climate change?

Climate change will lead to increased risk of floodingCarbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by human activities trap energy that would otherwise be lost to space. As a result, the total amount of energy in the earth system is increasing, leading to higher global average temperatures and more extreme weather events. Most of this extra energy is absorbed by the oceans, and the resulting expansion as the water warms, combined with additional water from melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, leads to rises in sea level.

The Met Office provides more detailed information about climate change, including some of the evidence showing the scale of the challenge that we now face. While changes to levels of greenhouse gases and associated climate change have happened throughout history, it points out that the changes now being driven by human activities are extremely rapid in comparison to natural fluctuations, making it harder for humans and other species to adapt. In addition, the climate change that is occurring now is ending a particularly stable 11,000 year period, during which all human civilisation has developed.

How will Gosport be affected?

The Government's latest Climate Change Risk Assessment identifies six high priority risks that climate change poses to the UK, all of which are relevant to Gosport.

  • Flooding and coastal change
  • Heat waves
  • Water shortages
  • Damage to ecosystems, soils and biodiversity
  • Impacts on domestic and international food production
  • New and emerging pests and diseases, and invasive non-native species

If these risks are not managed, they will cause health problems, increase costs to the Council and to individuals and businesses, and degrade our local environment. The greater the rise in average global temperatures, the harder it will be to manage these risks.

The Met Office has collaborated with the BBC to produce a tool showing local impacts to weather of climate change by postcode. This shows that in Gosport, a significant increase in the number of summer days over 25°C and the intensity of the heaviest summer rainfall can be expected.

What do we need to do in Gosport?

In Gosport, we have a responsibility to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we will need to adapt to the impacts of the climate change.

The Tyndall Centre, a climate change research organisation attached to Manchester University, has analysed the CO2 emissions cuts (excluding aviation, shipping and land use change) needed by every local authority in the UK to make a fair contribution to meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement's commitment to keeping global temperature rise well below 2°C and pursuing a rise of no more than 1.5°C.

Its results for Gosport reveal that:

  • Gosport emissions need to stay within a "carbon budget" of 1.5 million tonnes CO2 emitted between 2020 and 2100.
  • This 80-year carbon budget represents just seven times the emissions seen in 2017.
  • To stay within this budget, emissions need to decrease by 12.6% every year, starting in 2020.

To achieve this scale of emissions cuts, we all need to play our part in responding to this crisis. We need to be aware of the emissions caused by all our actions, and do everything we can to reduce them. This means thinking about the way we travel, the way we heat our homes, the food we eat, and all other aspects of our lives. See our pages on what you can do and what the Council is doing for more information.