Climate change

What is climate change?

Naturally occurring gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and water vapour maintain the delicate balance between the surface temperature of the earth and the energy radiated from the sun. Without these gases, the surface temperature of the earth would be -18oC!

When burning coal, gas and oil, the carbon and hydrogen they have contained for millions of years interacts with air and generates more carbon dioxide and water vapour in the atmosphere. This has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution, when we first began to burn large amounts of fossil fuels. Scientists believe that this change in the balance of gases has contributed to a rise in the earth's temperature. This causes disruption to the environment with increased extreme global weather events, such as floods and droughts, rises in sea level and disturbance of natural ecosystems.

There is agreement on the need to cut carbon dioxide emissions by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Around a quarter of the UK's total annual carbon emissions come from our homes. Things most of us use for lighting, heating, cooking, washing, travel, communication and entertainment are maintained by energy created from burning fossil fuels. We can all take steps to reduce our own carbon emissions and may save money on our energy bills. The Energy Saving Trust have further information on reducing carbon emissions.