During December 2009 and January 2010 we experienced some harsh winter weather across the UK, Northern Europe, China and central USA. However, this is not evidence that there is now some doubt in the global warming trend. It is important to notice that during this winter, other parts of the world were a lot warmer than normal (for example in Greece and Alaska).
There are still people out there in denial, for example those who argue that there is “…some doubt from some scientists that climate change is really happening…or that it is caused by human activities…”. This is wrong. It may have been a fair point 15 to 20+ years ago, but the science has moved on and the evidence is now indisputable. Unfortunately, parts of the media and other organisations keep this denial alive with spurious stories like the “climategate scandal”.
Between 2000-2008 our emissions of carbon dioxide [i] were worse than the worst case emission scenarios, which is obviously a worrying start. Since then the global recession is expected to have brought 2009 emissions down. How economic recovery will effect emissions is going to be very important for the future.
This section looks at the make-up of UK emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions from power stations and transport need to be targeted as they are particularly significant (at 48% of our greenhouse gas emissions in 2008). We will need to encourage reductions in other sectors as well though. And there is still some scope in reduce emissions of the other greenhouse gases. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme is introduced: whilst it is neither a strong nor sustainable option, the scheme is expected to be important to help us drive down emissions from power and heavy industry.
To reduce (i.e. mitigate) the more serious consequences of Climate Change, we must reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. The UK has an important role in influencing / leading the world by following our emissions reduction targets. This section aims to show what these targets are, where the challenges are and how well we are doing.
If we could persuade the rest of the World to converge with the UK emissions reductions, we might see an optimistic picture developing for the second quarter of the century. It is a big if though! We are going to test our powers of influence to do this. And we certainly wont have much hope of that if we don’t meet our own targets.
This section looks at the history of UK emissions compared to our population growth. Using this we can see how our emissions grew to a per capita level of nearly 12 tonnes CO2 per person per year. It is very important to consider this when thinking about the emissions targets that we would want China to set. Using the principals conceived in the GCI’s Contraction & Convergence model, we can develop emissions projections for China showing that they will grow for a few years before we can persuade them to be cut.
Temperature changes in March 1 January 2010
This is an in-depth look at how the UK climate projections (2009) can be used to understand how climate change will effect temperatures, for me, in the month of March. I introduce you to some real temperature data from the University of Reading Atmospheric Observatory, to help visualise what day-to-day temperatures might be like. And it seems likely that, even by the 2050s, and even under lower emission scenarios, we will see March temperatures that are more like the averages that we are used to seeing for April.
To help us understand how climate change will vary across the world, the Met Office have created a map showing the relative change in temperature across the globe. It is notable that other parts of the world are expected to see much bigger changes than Reading. This map also identifies some of the key consequences that individual regions may be expected to have to deal with. These are listed further with links to the IPCC impacts report.
Even by 2050 we could experience heat waves, with hottest day temperatures that reach 40ºC in the shade. By the 2080s there is a big difference in the temperatures that we are likely to see by following the high, rather than the low scenario. It looks like it could get uncomfortably hot compared to what we’ve been used to.