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Climate change

Our climate is changing.

We are seeing:

  • more extreme weather conditions
  • warmer, drier summers
  • milder, wetter winters
  • more hot days
  • changing rainfall patterns - more intense storms
  • less days of frost
  • higher sea temperatures
  • sea level rise

We have convincing evidence that these changes are more than a natural cycle.

What do the scientists say

There is now widespread agreement among the world's leading scientists that our climate is changing due to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. The evidence on climate change is now overwhelming. These changes will have far-reaching impacts on societies, economies and the natural environment.

For further information see the United Kingdom Climate Impact Programme (UKCIP) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change website.

What changes are we seeing now

Climate change in the UK can be measured in records extending back over 350 years. The 1990s was the warmest decade in central England since records began in the 1660s and this warming of climate over land has been accompanied by warming of UK coastal waters. Impacts so far include:

  • The growing season for plants in central England has lengthened by about one month since 1900
  • Heat waves have become more frequent in summer, while there are now fewer frosts and winter cold spells
  • Winters over the last 200 years have become much wetter relative to summers throughout the UK
  • A larger proportion of winter precipitation (rain and snow) now falls as heavy rainfall than was the case 50 years ago
  • After adjusting for natural land movements, the average sea level around the UK is now about 10cm higher than it was in 1900

Should we concentrate on emissions control. Why is adaptation important

It is essential that we control our emissions to limit future damage. However, even if stringent cuts in emissions were made immediately, our climate would continue to change for many decades to come, due to the accumulated emissions already in the atmosphere.

We have to deal with these changes; some may be life threatening, others will affect quality of life. It is imperative that we learn to live with a changing climate and make sure that our existing social and economic structures can adapt and grow. These challenges have been recognised by Tynwald, which, in May 2013, approved the objective of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 based on 1990 levels. Two further reports on mitigating and adapting to our climate challenges were approved by Tynwald in May 2015. These documents can be found in downloadable documents to the right.

The future is uncertain. How can we take action when we cannot be sure what the future will hold

Where there is uncertainty about the nature and extent of climate risks we can account for this by ensuring that the decisions we take build in a degree of resilience. This can be achieved using risk assessment and management techniques. Uncertainty is not a reason for inaction.

What's happening in the Isle of Man

A study commissioned by the Department of Local Government and the Environment to identify and prioritise the impacts has now been completed by consultants, Acclimatise. The report on this essential work, which will help us plan for the future, can be found in full in the documents table, below. As the report comprises of 12 very technical and detailed reports, an Executive Summary highlighting the key areas has been prepared, which is both useful in its own right but can also be used to indicate where you can find more detailed data in the main reports. The Executive Summary is also included in the documents table.

The study compliments the Scoping Studies for the UK, which is part of the United Kingdom Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP). UKCIP helps organisations assess how they may be affected by climate change, so they can prepare for the impacts, and they acted as the advisors to the Climate Change Working Group set up by the Department to manage the study. In addition to acting as advisors on the Scoping Study, UKCIP also assisted by supplying tools specifically developed for Scoping Studies. The 2 used in this study were the Risk Uncertainty and Decision Making Framework and Costing the Impacts of Climate Change.

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