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What is Climate Change?

What is climate change?

Climate change is the long-term shift in average weather patterns across the world. Since the mid-1800s, humans have contributed to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. This causes global temperatures to rise, resulting in long-term changes to the climate.

What has caused climate change?

In the 11,000 years before the Industrial Revolution, the average temperature across the world was stable at around 14°C. The Industrial Revolution began in the mid-1800s when humans began to burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas for fuel.

Burning fossil fuels produces energy, but also releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous monoxide into the air. Over time, large quantities of these gases have built up in the atmosphere.

Once in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide form a 'blanket' around the planet. This traps the heat from the sun and causes the earth to heat up.

Evidence has shown that the high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the leading cause of increasing global temperatures.

Climate change is not just seen in temperature and carbon dioxide increases. We see it in many other indicators of climate change, which you can explore further on the Met Office global climate dashboard.

What impact could climate change have?

In Sefton

As a coastal borough, Sefton feels the effects of climate change more keenly than other parts of the UK.

Climate predictions indicate that over the next century around 350m of the Sefton coastline could be lost to erosion.

The impacts from a changing climate also include a rising sea level, warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers, more frequent and intense storms and increased coastal flooding.

The risk of localised flooding could also increase. Flood and erosion events can affect not only those living in coastal and high-risk areas, but also transport networks, schools, highways and local businesses.

They can also have detrimental environmental impacts on the rare species and habitats in Sefton.

To ensure we mitigate as many of these risks as is possible, the Council developed a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy which can be found here.


Scientific research and studies are ongoing to help us predict how climate change might affect our lives in the future.

However, it is projected that in 50 years’ time, by 2070:

  • Winters will be between 1 and 4.5°C warmer and up to 30% wetter
  • Summers will be between 1 and 6°C warmer and up to 60% drier

These changes could have a big impact on how we live our lives.

Read more about climate change in the UK

Last Updated on Monday, March 4, 2024

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