Some degree of climate change is inevitable because of past and present greenhouse gas emissions. And even with strong international action to curb emissions, global temperatures still have a fifty percent chance of rising above 2 °C by the end of the century.
In England temperatures are, on average, between 0.5 – 1°C higher than they were in the 1970s. Sea levels have risen by an average of 3 mm each year in recent decades, and could increase by 12-76 cm by the end of the century (compared to 1990 levels). See UKCP09 Key findings for future projections.
Extreme weather events already cause damage and disruption. Around two thousand people across the UK died as a result of the 2003 heatwave. Insured losses from flooding and severe weather events have cost an average £1.5 billion per year over the past twenty years. In 2007 widespread flooding affected 55,000 homes, killed 13 people and cost the economy £3.2 billion. Events such as these are likely to become more frequent and severe as the climate changes. Preparing for climate change today in many instances will reduce the impact of future costs and damages, and enable organisations and individuals to take advantage of any potential opportunities. The Adaptation Sub-Committee provides advice to the Government on climate change risks and opportunities for the UK, and evaluates progress on adaptation.