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Climate change

1 in 6 species is at risk of extinction because of climate change.

We can stop this.

Why it matters

The Earth's global temperature is warming, meaning that weather patterns and ecosystems are changing more quickly than many people and species can adapt. Many of the world's greatest challenges  from poverty to displacement to wildlife extinction  are intensified by climate change.

But it's fixable. We have the knowledge and the technology to reduce our impact on the climate and ease the pressures on the world's most vulnerable. We just need to make it happen.

How you can help

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Climate change is happening now

We know climate change is happening. Global temperatures have been rising for over a century, accelerating in the past 30 years, and are now the highest on record.

We know why. We release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels for energy, farming, and destroying forests. These carbon emissions are causing the greenhouse effect  trapping heat and making the Earth warmer to an extent that can't be explained by natural factors alone.

This is affecting weather patterns and habitats, plants and animals. People and wildlife often can't keep up with the changes that are happening to their homes.

Things will get worse if we do nothing.

We know what needs to be done about it. We need to cut man-made carbon emissions drastically, phase out fossil fuels like coal, tackle deforestation, and move to renewable energy.

Discover more about the effects of climate change.

Speak out about climate change

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Is a few degrees warmer a problem?

During the last ice age, which ended 12,000 years ago, the world's average temperature was only 4-5°C cooler than it is today. Those few degrees made a drastic difference: parts of Britain were under a mile of ice, and sea levels were about 100 metres lower than they are now.

So just a few degrees can have very dramatic effects, and what's happening now is at a far greater rate than we've ever seen. More importantly, we know that it's largely caused by human activity.

There has been a 1°C increase globally over the last 150 years.

Climate experts predict we could easily see global temperature rise of more than 4°C this century if we don't act now to cut carbon emissions. It's not a distant future we're talking about – it's the lives of our children and grandchildren. We're the last generation with the power to fix this.

So you can see why we're doing all we can to help keep the already-unavoidable rise to below 2°C – preferably below 1.5°C – to minimise climate disruption and all that could mean.

Why WWF is tackling climate change

Some people ask us why WWF is so involved in tackling climate change. Don't we just stick to saving wildlife, like tigers and pandas?

At WWF our job is to improve the relationship between people and the natural world. Right now climate change is putting pressure on both, and it affects all the work we do.


Our research shows that if the Earth continues to warm at its current rate, so many species will be pushed to extinction that many of the conservation successes we've achieved will be undone. That's not something we're prepared to accept.

There are stark examples of climate impacts already:

  • Tigers whose coastal forests are affetcted by sea level rise
  • Elephants reacting in unpredictable ways to changing rainfall patterns  coming into more contact with farmers, villagers and poachers
  • Polar bears struggling to migrate and hunt because of Arctic sea ice melting earlier and forming later each year

Threatened species all over the world are already facing overwhelming challenges. Climate change is creating more pressures they don't need. Unless we act, we'll only be seeing more images like the starving polar bear that captured everyone's hearts.

Discover more about the effects of climate change on wildlife.

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We want to see a world where people and nature thrive, but climate change makes it even more difficult for our vision to be realised. More floods, worse storms, longer droughts, deadlier wildfires  these impacts of climate change are damaging crops, destroying homes, and threatening livelihoods across the world.

  • Tuvalu, an island in the Pacific, is already planning to evacuate its citizens because of rising sea levels
  • Droughts in East Africa that already threaten life on a massive scale will only be worsened by climate change
  • Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy are made more severe
  • Flooding will increasingly become a familiar occurrence here in the UK

We want poorer and less developed countries  which will be most affected by climate change, though least responsible historically  to be given the support they need to find ways to adapt to their changing world.

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From the fragile mangrove swamps in India to the fast-decreasing icy wilderness of the Arctic, the delicate balance of life in precious places all over the world is being put under stress.

Coral reefs like the iconic Great Barrier are highly vulnerable to climate change, especially in the forms of rising temperatures and ocean acidification. Coral grows more slowly, becomes bleached, and even crumbles under these conditions, having far-reaching impacts for all the life that depends on the reef.

Forests, too, are bound up with climate change. They're a massive life-force, providing homes for wildlife and livelihoods for a billion people, and they also store and cycle huge amounts of carbon. Deforestation is the second biggest cause of carbon dioxide emissions (after fossil fuel-burning), so tackling climate change and protecting forests are deeply linked.

Discover more about how climate change is effecting forests like the Amazon and our polar regions.

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Charlotte's story

Natural chalk streams like the River Kennet are an iconic part of our British countryside. When the Kennet stopped flowing one October day in 2011, Charlotte Hitchmough took action. With local volunteers, she rescued trout trapped in fast-dwindling pools, and transferred them downstream.

We campaign against the over-exploitation of Britain's rivers, to protect them from threats including climate change-induced drought. The crisis in 2011 had a major impact on local wildlife, but things are looking brighter  Charlotte's group has seen populations of trout and other freshwater fish in the Kennet steadily rise.

WWF: Working hard to tackle climate change

Championing renewable energy

One of WWF's goals is a world powered by clean, safe energy:  100% renewables  by 2050.

To get there we don't just need a rapid increase in the use of renewable energy but also, crucially, a drastic reduction in fossil fuel use.

Here's the unavoidable truth. If the world is going to avoid disastrous climate change, most of the planet's unextracted fossil fuels need to stay in the ground and we need to move to 100% renewable energy.

But that's not what we see at the moment. Not only is fossil fuel use increasing globally, but some energy companies are still exploring for more and more reserves of coal, oil and gas. It's not possible to overstate just how ridiculous this is, especially as renewables are increasingly cost effective.

Pushing for international action

In December 2015 over 190 countries signed a ground-breaking climate deal. WWF was there, working hard to make the deal the best it could be.

It was a big step in the right direction. Now it’s time for governments, including our own, to act on their pledges.

Low-carbon living

At WWF we aren't just working internationally on targets for reducing climate change, or focusing on big dirty power stations (though clearly all these things are hugely important).

We are building a better, more sustainable world for people and planet. Moving away from our dependence on fossil fuels offers us a chance to rebuild the way we live so that it's not just greener, it's BETTER.

So what is low-carbon living? It's more efficient buildings and locally generated renewable energy; it's better public transport and solar panels on primary schools; it's thinking about the food we eat as well as the flights we take; it's keeping our homes warm and asthma rates down; it's getting exciting new technologies like kinetic pavements and smart meters into our daily lives whilst also helping businesses and local communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.

We're working hard to make sure that climate change is taken seriously at the top levels of government and to keep up the pressure on them to encourage and legislate for a low-carbon society.

Find out more about how we're tackling climate change.

"Together, we must ensure that our grandchildren will not have to ask why we failed to do the right thing, and let them suffer the consequences."

- Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Strength in numbers

Working together to tackle climate change

We work with the Climate Coalition, alongside 100 other organisations like Greenpeace, Oxfam, Friends Of The Earth, 350.org. We campaign together on climate change because we can have more impact when we pool resources and speak with a unified voice.

How you can make a difference

Make some simple changes

Take our quick carbon footprint calculator to discover your personal impact and how you can help reduce it.

Calculate your footprint

Make some noise

Tell the world why you care and help make some noise