Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing us in the 21st century. The evidence that the problem is real, serious and urgent is recognised by the great majority of the world's scientists.
Within Government the responsibility for developing policies which address the causes of climate change, for example to help reduce energy consumption and move to lower carbon energy sources, lies with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Adapting to the impacts of climate change which are unavoidable, for example by building climate change considerations into infrastructure planning, is the responsibility of the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).
In January 2012 Defra published the UK’s first Climate Change Risk Assessment to help government, businesses and the public understand the risks which climate change poses for the UK. As well as risks posed by changes to the UK’s own climate, this risk assessment needs to take account of impacts elsewhere in the world, given the highly globalised world in which we live. These global risks were considered by the Foresight International Dimensions of Climate Change report.
Some, including scientists, have suggested that in the future geo-engineering may have a role to play in supplementing our efforts to mitigate climate change. However, for most techniques current understanding of the costs feasibility, environmental and societal impacts is limited, and the UK Government has recently published its view on geoengineering research.
More information on what the Government is doing in relation to climate change can be found on the DECC and Defra websites. Further information on the evidence for climate change can be found on the climate science section of the Government Office for Science website, and the Met Office Hadley Centre web site. More in-depth scientific information can be found in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up under the aegis of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to provide governments with authoritative advice. The IPCC published its Fourth Assessment Report, synthesising its review of research over the previous six years, in November 2007. More recently the IPCC also published a special report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaption. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report is due for publication in 2014.