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Climate change: the facts

by Leeds Building Society

Planet Earth is heating up fast, and as a result, the weather we all experience is changing. This is what’s known as climate change.

It’s largely a result of the greenhouse gases produced by using fossil fuels - oil, natural gas and coal - to fuel factories and transport, and to heat homes.

These gases trap heat from the sun and release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise.

On average, the world is about 1.2°C warmer than before humans started burning fossil fuels in the 1800s. Temperatures are expected to increase further unless we change the way we live[1].

Rising temperatures could mean more extreme weather around the world, such as heatwaves, storms and floods. This could damage natural environments and change the way we live.


What is the UK government doing about it?

In response to climate change, the UK government wants to cut CO2 emissions by 78% by 2035[2], and achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050[3].

Let’s look at where the UK stands in a few key areas.


CO2 emissions

Carbon emissions in the UK fell 40% between 1990 and 2019[4], but by cutting down on our carbon emissions even more, we can all do our bit to lessen the effects of climate change.


Fossil fuels

Oil, coal, and natural gas accounted for 37.7% of the UK’s energy mix in 2020[5] – this is a record low, but this figure will need to be even lower to reach the government’s targets.


Climate warming

Scientists project UK temperatures will rise by around 0.6°C between now and 2050[6]. This doesn’t sound a lot, but scientists have set a ‘safe limit’ of just a 1.5°C rise by 2099 – so keeping below this figure is vital.

The need to act is clear, but how can you play your part? Read our How to live greener at home guide to find out more.

This article is intended for information purposes only and is accurate at the time of publication. It’s always advisable to verify any information you take before relying on it.