Climate Change – How does It Affect Me?
Climate change is not a new phenomenon, there have been periods of extremes in the past. What is unusual now is the rate and scale of change and the underlying cause of these changes – the growing emissions of greenhouse gases associated with human activity.
The polar caps are melting causing sea levels to rise - but climate change is affecting all regions around the world. Climate change is leading to an increase in extreme weather events globally – with some regions experiencing more rainfall and flooding, while others are experiencing more extreme heatwaves and droughts and these impacts are expected to intensify in the coming decades
It is globally agreed that climate change is being brought about by human activity – mainly the deforestation of the planet including rain forests, burning of fossil fuels and industrial activity. Global warming and the climate changes seen today are being caused by the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions by humans. These gases trap heat within the Earth’s atmosphere and result in global warming
Temperatures in the UK have risen by around 1 degree since the 1970s – an additional degree rise is globally agreed as the threshold beyond which climate change risks become unacceptably high. Although in Scotland we normally complain about our weather not being warm enough climate change will mean summer droughts may become more frequent and is actually making extreme wet winters in the UK about 25% more likely.
Security of our food supply.
Although warmer temperatures may mean that Scotland could grow more food, the threat of pests, disease and invasive non-native species could result in damage to food production. The effects of extreme climatic events around the globe would also have major impacts on supply and cost of food.
Availability and quality of water.
As our climate warms and rain patterns change, there may be increased competition over water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and nature’s needs. Summer droughts may become more frequent causing problems for water quality and supply. Changes in wet land habitats may reduce their natural capacity to filter pollutants.
Increased risk of flooding.
With climate change likely to alter rain patterns and bring more heavy downpours, flooding is expected to increase in the future. This could have serious consequences for people, wildlife, businesses and communities.
Health and well being.
A warming climate could affect patterns of disease and distribution of disease carriers, i.e. may bring diseases and disease-carrying insects (like mosquitoes) to areas where previously they were not found. There has already been increases in heat-related deaths in many countries, including European countries.
Society and economy.
Sectors that rely heavily on certain temperatures and precipitation levels such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism are particularly affected by climate change. These industries provide major incomes and are major employers in Stirling and in Scotland as a whole.
Calculate your carbon footprint.
Do you know the impact you have on the environment? There’s a quick, easy-to-use fun tool on the WWF website that can calculate your footprint and lets you know how many planets we would need to support your lifestyle.
Adapting to a changing climate
Our Climate is changing
Whatever actions are taken now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the climate will continue to change for some decades to come due to the long life of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.
Everyone will be affected by climate change. Organisations, businesses, households, communities, and the infrastructure we all rely on will be impacted in some way, either directly or indirectly, as climate impacts across the globe will also have knock-on effects on our lifestyles.
Climate change is not just an environmental issue, it cuts across all aspects of life as we know it in Scotland
Climate Change in Scotland
We are already seeing evidence of Scotland’s climate changing. Over the last few decades:average temperatures have increased rainfall patterns have changed sea-levels have risen extreme weather events have intensified.
Climate projections for the coming decades indicate that the climate trends observed during the last century will continue and intensify in this century due to human activities. This will bring a wide range of challenges for the environment, infrastructure, economy, and people of Scotland.
Scotland As A World Leader
The Scottish Government recognises climate change will have far reaching effects on Scotland's economy, its people and its environment and is determined to play its part in tackling these challenges.
The world-leading Climate Change (Scotland) Act was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in 2009. Scottish Government emission reduction targets are to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions from a 1990 baseline by 42% by 2020 and 80% 2050.
Climate Change Adaption
Climate Adaptation means anticipating the impacts of climate change and taking appropriate action to reduce any threats or make the most of any opportunities that may arise.
By planning and preparing for change now, Scotland will be better placed to build resilience to predicted negative effects and to take advantage of any opportunities this change might bring.
Adapting to the consequences of a changing climate requires appropriate action, based on assessments of risk and vulnerability. Scotland’s statutory Climate Change Adaptation Programme addresses the risks identified for Scotland in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA). A summary of the assessment for Scotland is also available.
EU Initiatives on Climate Change
The European Commission recognises that, whilst Member States play a crucial role in developing national adaptation plans, the impacts of climate change will be felt at the local level so local authorities are ideally placed to be the key drivers in implementing climate adaptation measures to improve the resilience of local areas.
EU Cities Adapt
Stirling was one of only 2 UK cities to be selected to participate in the EU Cities Adapt project to support cities to develop a climate change adaptation strategy. With specialist input from across Europe, including a research mentor from the University of Manchester, a draft Adaptation Strategy was developed through consultation across Council services.
Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change
Stirling Council signed the Covenant of Mayors' Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change in October 2014. Signatory authorities commit to submitting a comprehensive local adaptation strategy within 2 years of signing up and a Progress Report, in the form of a self-assessment questionnaire, every second year.
Climate Ready Stirling
Stirling Council's first Adaptation Strategy was adopted in September 2014 and is split into 3 parts: a Strategy Summary and Action Plan and a more detailed Main Issues Report. Each document is intended to stand alone but together they make up the complete Strategy. The Main Issues Report outlines evidence for climate change, the expected changes to our climate, and the likely impacts for Stirling. It also provides some evidence that severe weather events are already affecting the Council and its communities, with operational, reputational, financial and legal consequences. Further evidence indicates that these changes are part of a trend and that such weather events are likely to become more intense and more frequent, requiring action to reduce their impacts.