Climate change

We can no longer ignore the damage our natural environment is experiencing. In 2018, scientists and leaders from across the world published a report showing how a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures from pre-industrial levels is devastating our environment. The report explains the undeniable link between human activities and this temperature increase. The report calls for drastic changes in policy to prevent further damage to our environment. This report is known as the Paris Agreement.

Read the special report 'Global Warming of 1.5ºC' on the IPCC website.

Find out more on the causes of climate change on the European Commission website.

Our response to climate change

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas produced by human activities. The Climate Change Act of 2008 was passed by the UK government to ensure that we kept greenhouse gas emissions at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline by 2050, to avoid dangerous climate change. The Act made the UK the first country with a legally binding framework to cut carbon emissions. Alongside this Act, the Committee on Climate Change was set up to advise the Government on legislation and progress on reducing emissions. More recently, the UK government has recommended a ‘net zero’ target for greenhouse gases by 2050. A new strategy sets out policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet this target.

Go to Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener on GOV.UK to learn more.

Climate change effects are being experienced in our country, which we now must adapt to. Our experience of climate change has already resulted in costs to our economy, society and environment. We must work to mitigate against climate change, as well as adapt to the impacts that we already experience.

Mitigation: reducing climate change. We can do this by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This can be achieved by improving energy efficiency, using renewable energy, lowering consumption rates and using electric cars. We also need to enhance our carbon sinks (which store carbon) by planting trees and carbon sequestering (storing) plants, and investing in carbon capture technology.

Adaptation: adapting to life with climate change. This will reduce our vulnerability to harmful effects. This could be innovation in infrastructure, like flood defences or water desalination processes. It could also be developing resilient food sources and efficient healthcare services, including emergency planning for severe weather events.

Flooding in Eden area

While climate change is global in scale, Eden is no stranger to the impacts. The 2005, 2009 and 2016 floods had damaging impacts across the district. We have suffered social, economic and environmental losses. It is predicted similar flooding could become more common as temperatures increase. In December 2015, Storm Desmond caused disruption across Eden and Cumbria. It impacted homes and businesses for months after the event.

View our flooding emergency response page to learn more about how to stay safe during a flood.

Climate change impacts

Across the world the impacts of climate change are being felt in various ways. In some countries, we are seeing shifting weather patterns that threaten food production. Elsewhere, rapid glacier melt threatens sea level rise that risks catastrophic flooding. Currently the impacts of climate change are worse in poorer countries. It is likely that climate change will increasingly affect the UK in years to come. Impacts it is likely we will see include:

Rising temperatures

  • Warmer weather.

  • Very cold winters will be rare.

Rainfall changes

  • Winters will be wetter and summers will be hotter and more prolonged.

  • Increased local flooding and flash floods.

  • Increased pressure on water resources during hotter periods.

Severe weather

  • Severe weather events occurring more often.

  • More storms, high winds and increased potential for flooding.

Rising sea level

  • Sea levels could rise by 40cm, leading to coastal erosion and flood risks.

  • Coastal ecosystems will be drastically altered.


  • Temperature increases and water availability will change the crops we can grow, impacting our diets

  • Hotter summers and colder winters pose a health risk to children and the elderly.

  • Foreign diseases associated with hot weather migrating north, for example malaria.

Homes and lifestyle

  • Cost of living increases due to food, fuel and water shortages.

  • Damage to homes due to severe weather events, increasing the cost of insurance.

  • Extreme weather affecting homes, work, infrastructure and travel links.


  • Domestic crops will begin to struggle due to flooding and drought.

  • Soil quality will decrease and soil erosion will increase.

  • Hot weather will kill livestock.


  • Temperature change threatens birds, fish and land animals.

  • Some species cannot adapt to changes.

  • New competition/disease may be brought by migrating animals.

  • The plants and trees that can grow in certain areas will change.

Ocean acidification

  • The ongoing decrease in ocean pH, 30% decrease to date.

  • Predicted decrease of 150% by 2100 which has not been experienced for 400,000 years.

  • Wide implications for ocean life, particularly coral and animals with shells or skeletons.

Last updated: Wednesday, 24 April, 2024.