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Climate change

Glacier, Antarctica

What is climate change?

Polar bear, Spitsbergen, Norway

Global warming – it doesn’t mean we’ll all have warmer weather in the future.

As the planet heats, climate patterns change, with more extreme and unpredictable weather across the world – many places will be hotter, some colder. Some wetter, others drier.

We know the planet has warmed by an average of nearly 1ºC in the past century. Might not sound much, but on a global scale that's a huge increase that's creating big problems for people and wildlife.

Causes of climate change

Over the past 150 years, the world’s industrialised nations have changed the balance of the carbon cycle by burning huge amounts of fossil fuels (concentrated carbon, like coal, oil, gas), as well as breeding vast numbers of methane-producing livestock, and cutting down the forests that naturally absorb carbon dioxide from the air.

The extra carbon in the atmosphere has been raising global temperatures, and the speed of change has been faster than any natural process, and faster than many natural systems can adapt.

Discover more about the causes of climate change and the effects of climate change

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Impacts and effects of climate change

Swamp forest habitat of Javan rhino

Forests

Most people know how vital forests are – they soak up carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, and help regulate the world's climate. They're also home to countless plant and animal species. We're working with communities, local governments and businesses to ensure the world's forests are protected... Find out more about climate change and forests

Melting iceberg showing the portion underwater.

Polar regions

Recent data has shown that Arctic summer sea ice is melting faster than we had expected, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that : "The impacts of climate change in the polar regions over the next 100 years will exceed impacts forecast for other regions, and will have globally significant consequences”... Find out more about climate change and the poles

Sumatran orang-utan under leaf shelter,  Indonesia

Animals

For endangered species like the orang-utans in Indonesia and Malaysia – already at risk because of deforestation, habitat loss and illegal hunting – one of the first effects of climate change is likely to be food shortages caused by unusual rainfall patterns. And they're just one of the many species that will be affected... Find out more about climate change and animals

Discover more about the effects of climate change and global warming 

How WWF is tackling climate change

Sunset behind clouds in Mexico

Getting a global climate deal

Climate change is a global problem – that’s why we need international agreement on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve forests and help poorer countries adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. We are also working in countries with major economies such as China, India, Brazil, South Africa, the USA and the EU to ensure that they all take ambitious action at home.

Fitting energy saving light bulb

Changing how we live

We’re promoting positive changes in the way we all live, to help us live within the capacity of our one, small planet. It's more than just switching to low-energy light bulbs, although that's a positive first step - it's about pushing forward new technologies, climate-smart legislation and greener lifestyles. Take our footprint calculator and help reduce your environmental footprint.

Turbines on a wind farm

Renewable energy and low-carbon transport

We have a vision for a 100% renewable future by 2050. We're working toward an efficient energy system focused on clean renewable energy sources like wind, wave and solar power.

Transport is another big greenhouse gas emitter. We're particularly focussing on aviation which is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions in the UK. We’re persuading companies to reduce business flightsand working to secure a global agreement to tackle emissions.

Find out more about how we're tackling climate change and global warming

How you can help tackle climate change