What is climate change

Climate is the average weather in a place over many years. Climate change is a shift in those average conditions.

The rapid climate change we are now experiencing in the UK and around the world is caused by people burning oil, gas and coal for heat and energy in homes, industry and transport.

Oil, gas and coal are known as 'fossil fuels' - carbon-rich materials formed from decomposed living organisms that died millions of years ago. When fossil fuels are burned, they release greenhouse gases (mostly carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere, trapping the Sun's heat and causing world temperatures to rise.

The world is now about 1.2ºC warmer than it was in the 19th Century and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 50%.

What’s the difference between weather and climate?

Visit the Met Office for further information and to learn about the difference between weather and climate change. 

Weather vs climate (external link)

What happened at COP26?

The UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), the world’s biggest conference on climate change in Glasgow during November 2021.

The COP26 summit brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

On 13 November 2021, COP26 concluded in Glasgow with all countries agreeing the Glasgow Climate Pact to keep 1.5C alive and finalise the outstanding element of the Paris Agreement.

Climate negotiators ended two weeks of intense talks with consensus on urgently accelerating climate action. The Glasgow Climate Pact, combined with increased ambition and action from countries, means that 1.5C remains in sight and scales up action on dealing with climate impacts, but it will only be delivered with concerted and immediate global efforts.

Find out more on the COP26 website (external link)