Human-accelerated climate change is one of the most profound environmental crises that we have ever experienced.
The world is already 1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels and we are already experiencing the impacts, from extreme weather to rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice.
Without urgent action, global warming is likely to reach 1.5 °C by as soon as 2030. Exceeding this threshold by even half a degree will significantly increase the risk of drought, flood, wildfires, food shortages and poverty for hundreds of millions of people, as well as biodiversity loss and species extinctions. If the world keeps on warming, we could see catastrophic climate breakdown.
Temperatures are, on average, between 0.5 – 1°C higher than they were in the 1970s; sea levels have risen by an average of 3 mm each year in recent decades; and extreme weather events are already causing damage and disruption (see the Committee on Climate Change website for more.)
We are seeing shifting species ranges and breeding success, changing migration patterns, changes in the annual timing of flowering and the migration of birds and butterflies, food availability and other important ecological factors, including the spread of diseases and different patterns of water availability (flood and drought).
Find out more
- Global action on climate change - dealing with climate change requires coordinated action by nations around the world.
- UK regulations: the Climate Change Act 2008 – this is the basis for the UK’s approach to tackling and responding to climate change.
- United Nations 6th Environment Outlook Report (2019). More than 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries contributed to the assessment.
- UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report (2018) on global warming of 1.5°C
How is Sussex Wildlife Trust helping to limit the effects of climate change?
Protecting and restoring our natural environment and ecosystems is important in its own right, but it also produces a range of other services that can help people and wildlife to adapt in a changing climate.
The challenges are huge but there is still time to create a thriving and sustainable future - read more about our vision for a Wilder Sussex.
The Sussex Wildlife Trust has identified four main areas to combat the effects of climate change:
1. Protect our current wildlife and wild places - future biodiversity can only adapt and evolve from the biodiversity that survives today
2. Reduce damage to nature from sources other than climate change - wildlife may be less able to adapt to climate change if other sources of harm are present e.g. habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, over-abstraction of water, agricultural intensification
3. Develop ecologically robust and varied landscapes - maintaining a diversity of habitats and allowing natural processes to shape the ecology and structure of whole landscapes will give wildlife the best chance to survive and adapt
4. Create ecological networks by protecting, creating and restoring habitats - making it easier for species to move through the landscape will allow wildlife to spread and give it the space it needs to recover
Read our climate change strategy: Weathering the changes
- Building resilience to flooding, drought and biodiversity loss by creating healthy nature recovery networks, with our nature reserves at their core
- Protecting and restoring landscapes for carbon capture by planting trees; restoring and retaining important wetland habitats; and sustaining healthy soils
- Reducing the impacts of flooding and drought through our Natural Flood Management partnership projects
- Helping others to understand and restore natural capital
- Creating coastal resilience to climate change through managed re-alignment of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
- Campaigning for healthy, Living Seas and Marine Conservation Zones
- Running Shoresearch surveys to help track indicator species for climate change
- Hosting the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre, which provides important information on the phenological changes occurring in our wildlife in response to climate change
What action can we take as individuals?
Climate change is a global issue and can be overwhelming but we need to rally together and take positive action. There is still time to make a difference and lots of small actions can, together, make a big impact.
Here are some ideas:
- Campaign for change – add your voice to the growing movements demanding government action
- Talk to your MP
- Reduce, re-use and recycle – the less you consume, the smaller your carbon footprint
- Be water efficient – use less from the tap, capture more rainfall, and pour less down the drain
- Avoid single-use plastics and choose re-usable alternatives
- Go energy efficient – choose A+++ appliances, insulate your home and consider switching to a renewable energy supplier
- Reduce the carbon footprint of your food by looking for locally grown/sourced options and eating seasonally-available foods
- Eat less meat and/or make sure it is locally sourced and grass-fed
- Plant a wildlife garden, and grow some of your own food
- Walk, cycle or take public transport instead of driving whenever you can
- Take fewer flights – and particularly short haul flights
- Support the work of Sussex Wildlife Trust