UK climate change projections have been updated for the first time in nearly ten years, painting a picture of increasing summer temperatures, more extreme weather and rising flood risk.
Using the latest science from the Met Office and around the world, the UK Climate Projections 2018 illustrates a range of future climate change scenarios to 2100.
Storms and wildfires
The results set out possible outcomes over the next century to help businesses, investors, local authorities and homeowners plan for the future. The worst-case scenario predicts a future dominated by rising sea levels and extreme weather, with nearly half as much rainfall by 2070 in summer and 35 per cent more in winter. By 2050, there would be a one in two chance of having a summer as hot as 2018.
Similar projections had been published by the US government just a few days earlier, despite opposition from President Donald Trump.
Launching the report, environment secretary Michael Gove said: “This cutting-edge science opens our eyes to the extent of the challenge we face, and shows us a future we want to avoid.
“It will take a long time for people in Northumberland, Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire to forget the devastation caused by Storms Desmond and Eva. As for 2018, during a six-week spell in summer, daytime temperatures consistently topped 30°C. Wildfires burned for weeks on Saddleworth Moor and Winter Hill.”
Strategic risks for business
The new projections were published to coincide with the ten year anniversary of the UK Climate Change Act - the world’s first legally-binding legislation to tackle climate change. It commits governments to work towards an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 against 1990 levels, although the target may soon be increased to keep the UK in line with the latest climate projections.
Globally, the international community has committed to limiting global warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels, but given the latest science, the UK Environment Agency is also planning for a 4°C rise - which some scientists say would be catastrophic for the planet.
Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency said there had been a 330 per cent increase in environmental incidents during the 2018 summer heatwave, and that “worryingly few” boards in the UK’s biggest businesses were disclosing the strategic risks of such events to their shareholders.