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The UK’s Climate Crisis Statistics That Will Scare You into Action

The long, dark nights and pumpkin-spiced lattes have returned, which can mean one thing only; the spooky season is well and truly back! But vampires and ghosts aren’t the only things causing a fright this Halloween. The climate crisis is here, and it certainly doesn’t wait for the full moon to appear. It’s transpiring in front of our eyes and leaving a devastating impact on our planet.

Once regarded as an out-of-reach issue that affects countries on the other side of the world, the consequences are now being felt here in the UK and we are experiencing widespread changes to our climate.

Did you know that 40% of the UK’s CO2 emissions are caused by individuals at home, on the road, and in the air? We all have a responsibility to do our bit to help reduce greenhouse gases.

So, in the spirit of Halloween, here are some frightening statistics on the effects of global warming in the UK that will scare you into action.

2019 was the 12th warmest year in a row from 1884

Climate change is warming our country, with the hottest years on record having occurred since 2002. The sixth report in the State of the UK Climate Series reveals that the decade 2010-2019 was typically 0.9°C warmer than the period 1961-1990, with 2019 1.1oC above the 1961-1990 average.

climate crisis statistics

UK heatwaves are now 30 times more likely to occur due to climate change

UK winters are predicted to become warmer and wetter on average, with summers expected to become hotter and drier. By 2050, heatwaves are projected to occur every other year.

A UK record was broken in summer 2019 with 38.7oC recorded at Cambridge University Botanic Garden on the 25 July. 

The implications of hot weather include straining the heart and lungs, particularly of the elderly with pre-existing health conditions and young children. Overexposure to the sun also increases the risk of sunburn to skin cancer.

In addition to human health, heat waves also put pressure on water and energy utilities, road and rail transport, the NHS and fire services.

The Met Office predicts that by 2070:

  • Winter will be between 1 and 4.5oC warmer and up to 30% wetter
  • Summer will be between 1 and 6oC warmer and up to 60% drier

UK summer temperatures predicted to reach 40oC

Even if global warming is limited to 1.5oC, the future of UK summers appears to be scorching, with temperatures predicted to exceed 40oC, says scientists.

To put that into context, 40oC is the average summer temperature in Dubai.

In 2006, heat damage to road surfaces reported in Cornwall to Cumbria cost an estimated £3.6 million in Oxfordshire alone. Speed restrictions were also introduced on rail lines due to the heightened risk of buckling with the west coast main line mainly impacted from delays and cancellations.

In 2019, UK rainfall was 107% of the 1981-2010 average

Warmer weather means there’s more moisture in the air, which means more severe storms and flooding. Since 1998, the UK has experienced 7 of the 10 wettest years on record, and torrential rain and floods are ‘on our own doorstep’.

The UK rainfall total for 2019 was 1,227mm, 107% of the 1981-2010 average and 112% of the 1961-1990 average.

February 2020 was the wettest February on record, with Storm Dennis, Ciara and George leaving thousands of homes flooded and many more without power.

climate crisis statistics

Sea levels around the UK will keep rising beyond 2100 despite GHG reductions

A UK climate change map produced by Climate Central has revealed the severity of rising sea levels with British seasides, holiday hotspots and transport routes predicted to vanish beneath rising water levels in 30 years’ time.

Since 1993, sea level increases have been accelerating to an average of 0.12 to 0.14 inches a year, roughly twice as fast as the long-term trend. The modelling is based on the projection that this rapid growth will continue with the worst-case scenario seeing up to 9 meters of sea level rise.

Coastal areas across Wales and Eastern England are most at risk. The sea is so close to Fairborne in North Wales that the whole village needs to be relocated, with reports from the local council stating that the village will be uninhabitable by the mid-2050s.

New research by Climate Central, a non-profit organisation based in Princeton, New Jersey claims that within the lifetime of Prince George, much of Buckingham Palace could be underwater.

Wildfires are increasing which create air pollution and damage UK wildlife habitats

Although small in comparison to California, Australia and the Amazon, wildfires are on the rise in the UK. According to the European Forest Fire Information System, 79 fires occurred in 2018 which were greater than 25 hectares and a whopping 137 fires happened in 2019 alone.

Temperatures exceeded 30oC in June 2018, with the huge fire on Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester which then reignited again the following year. This cost the local economy more than £21m, and the smoke and poor air quality damaged the health of more than 5 million people in the surrounding areas.

Wildlife is at risk of extinction

The UK’s warming temperature means huge changes to ecosystems, including the habitats of some of our most beloved species and an increased risk of extinction.

White-beaked dolphins, seabirds, puffins, Atlantic salmon and cod are all found in and around UK waters. Warming seas will force them away and make it more difficult for them to reproduce, disrupting the food chain and increasing issues such as overfishing.

climate crisis statistics

Farming will see the greatest effects of climate change

Although hotter weather and increased levels of CO2 can make growing certain crops easier, a rise in droughts may result in water access issues, making it harder for farmers to plan ahead.

2020 was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest year on record

The Met Office’s State of the UK Climate 2020 report found that 2020 was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest year on record. Since 2018, 4,000 heat-related deaths have been recorded in England.

Current infrastructure is not robust enough for our future climate

Floods, storms and extreme temperatures can damage buildings, upset transport and impact human health. Building infrastructure will need to be modified to manage these new living conditions.

But since the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) last assessment half a decade ago, more than 570,000 new homes built are not resilient against future high temperatures.

Exposure to air pollution linked to increased severity of mental illness

A report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that a fairly small increase in exposure to nitrogen dioxide led to a 32% rise in the risk of requiring community-based treatment and an 18% increase in the risk of being admitted to hospital.

Building a sustainable, stable world should not be viewed only in terms of the things we must stop but also the things we will gain. We will gain clean air, saving millions of lives and improving billions for all. We will gain inexhaustible energy – affordable to all. We will gain a new industrial revolution, powered by millions of innovations. We will also gain a more equal word as we cannot achieve the changes needed at the expense of the poorest nations and people.

Sir david attenborough

It’s time to break the climate curse

People, nature and infrastructure are already exposed to the climate crisis impacts today and these will only increase as it continues to cause widespread devastation.

The evidence is clear. We can no longer be ignorant to the climate crisis that’s unfolding in front of our eyes. We all have a responsibility to take individual action to help slow down the effects of global warming.

All of these issues can be hugely reduced by taking responsibility and reducing your greenhouse gas emissions at home and at work. This means moving to renewable energy and low emissions fuels. The good news is that Crown Oil is leading the way in the supply of 100% renewable diesel fuel, Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO). HVO is available for delivery across the UK within 48-hours of order and can be used as a drop-in alternative to regular fossil diesel.

tonnes of net CO2 reduced across our transport fleet from using HVO

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