Key Climate Factsheet

Carbon-dioxide level

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 390 parts per million (ppm). The pre-industrial level was around 270ppm. Current levels exceed the natural range experience in the last 650,000 years. The level is going up 1-2ppm each year.

Effects

Global mean temperature has increased by 0.7°C from pre-industrial times and temperatures could increase by 2-6°C by 2400. Presently sea level is rising 3-4mm per year. The increase levels of carbon-dioxide are causing the oceans to acidify as the oceans absorb carbon-dioxide.

Impacts

20-30% of plants and animals are at risk of extinction if global average temperatures exceed a rise of 1.5-2.5°C. Agriculture, fisheries, forests and water resources will be adversely affected by climate change especially in low latitude (i.e. developing countries).

Costs

Stabilization of GHG emissions levels between 445ppm and 535ppm is estimated to cost less than 3% of global GDP. The cost of carbon needed to stabilise emissions by 2100 to 550ppm is estimated to be between £13-£98 ($20-$155). Julie’s Bicycle uses a value of £52 per tonne to give a sense of the environmental damage caused by carbon emissions.

United Kingdom

The UK is the 8th largest emitter, accounting for 1.8% of global emissions. Annual total greenhouse gas emissions are 575 million tonnes per year and this works out to be approximately 11 tonnes per UK resident. The UK is the first country in the world with a Climate Change Act, which requires UK emissions to be reduced by 80% from 1990 levels.

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