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Wiltshire Climate Strategy Discussion Document January 2021

Climate impacts and adapting to climate change

Climate change due to human influences is acknowledged as a threat to life. Globally the planet is one degree warmer than before the industrial revolution and this is already causing significant climate impacts. UK Climate Projections (UKCP) (opens new window) from the Met Office suggest that without any action we are heading for a 4°C rise in global mean surface temperature. This high emissions scenario (following current levels of emissions growth) is projected to cause disruptive changes to our weather patterns and sea levels in the UK, with more serious consequences internationally. 

The United Nations Paris Agreement commits signatories to limiting global average temperature increase to 2°C goal, whilst striving to achieve a 1.5°C limit. A 2°C increase is acknowledged as the level which we must not overshoot. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on IPCC: Special report Global Warming of 1.5 ºC (opens new window) on the impacts of global warming show that even the effects of a 2°C rise are significantly worse than a 1.5°C rise.

The UK Government legal target (incorporated in the Climate Change Act 2008) to become carbon neutral by 2050 is designed to keep us below 2°C, and ideally we would reduce our carbon emissions sooner, so that we can keep below a 1.5°C rise (for more information, refer to Met Office: What is climate change? (opens new window)).

While we try to reduce the effects and impacts of climate change, Wiltshire Council also needs to adapt to a changed climate. Our new Climate Strategy and an updated Climate Change Adaptation Plan will include objectives to help us cope with a scenario based on a 2°C temperature rise.

The existing Climate Change Adaptation Plan assessed the implications of climate change in Wiltshire and put in place measures to protect residents and businesses from its impacts. Many of the actions are ongoing and involve a range of partners. The plan is due to be reviewed and engagement on the Climate Strategy will help to guide and inform the review.

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