Last updated:

10th May 2024

Climate Change and Adaptation

The climate is changing. The main cause of this is human activity. The widespread use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas in our homes, factories and transport, emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and causes the world’s temperature to rise. When fossil fuels burn, they release greenhouse gases - mostly carbon dioxide (CO2). This traps extra energy in the atmosphere near the Earth's surface, causing the planet to heat up.

The term climate change is the long-term shift in the Earth's average temperatures and weather conditions and over the last decade, the world is on average around 1.2°C warmer than during the late 19th Century. The level of climate change we will see in the future depends on how quickly we cut emissions of these dangerous greenhouse gases. Even if we were to stop all emissions today, we would not prevent some changes. However, the sooner we cut emissions, the smaller the changes will be.

A global average temperature increase of 1.2°C might not sound like much. However, it has already had a huge effect across the world in a number of ways including:

  • more frequent and intense extreme weather, such as storms, heatwaves and heavy rainfall.
  • rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets contributing to sea-level rise
  • ocean warming and changes in ocean currents
  • People's lives are also changing everywhere

Some of the impacts from these changes to our climate system include:

  • Risk to water supplies
  • Localised flooding
  • Flooding of coastal regions
  • Damage to marine ecosystems
  • Fisheries failing
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Change in seasonality
  • Heat stress
  • increased risk of forest fires
  • Damage to roads and buildings
  • Decrease in crop yields

In Wokingham we are seeing some of these effects of climate change already. In 2022 the UK recorded the warmest year on record with temperatures reaching over 40°C, which had impacts on public health and the environment. The number of hotter summers will increase in the future, and we can expect winters to become even wetter, resulting in frequent flooding. The start of 2024 has already seen record flooding occurring across the Borough, overwhelming our drainage systems, bursting riverbanks and damaging property, roads and fields.

What can we do?

Luckily, there are many things we can do. These actions fall into two broad categories: climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. These terms go hand-in-hand while navigating through the climate emergency, but they mean very different things.

Climate change mitigation means avoiding and reducing our emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to prevent the planet from warming to more extreme temperatures, this is looking at how we can reduce our carbon footprint and make changes in the way we live, work and travel to help reduce our footprint even further. To find out more on how to reduce your carbon footprint visit our resident section for some top tips.

Climate adaptation relates to actions that protect us against the impacts of climate change. This includes reacting to the changes we have seen already, as well as preparing for what will happen in the future.

How to be prepared

Without effective climate adaption measures, we will remain highly vulnerable to the risk posed by climate change but there are some basic measures we can all do to be prepared to the extreme weather events that we are experiencing. 

  1. Stay informed - Keep up-to-date with local climate-related risks and weather warnings to make informed decisions by visiting Met office weather warnings
  2. Emergency kit - Prepare a basic emergency kit with essentials like non-perishable food, water, flashlights, and first-aid supplies in your home. For more information visit Red cross - prepare an emergency kit
  3. Heat Preparedness - Have a plan for staying cool during heatwaves in the summer, such as using fans, staying hydrated and helping and checking in on those more vulnerable.
  4. Drought Response - Use drought-resistant plants for landscaping. Collect rainwater for outdoor use and implement water saving practices in your home.
  5. Flooding response - If you live in a floodplain or area susceptible to flooding, keep a supply of sandbags and keep gutters and drains free of debris to protect your home.
  6. Energy Efficiency - Make your home more energy-efficient through efficient appliances, solar panels, and battery storage to cope with potential power outages during extreme weather events.

You can also find more information on our emergency pages.

Give website feedback