Climate change – what we do
So, how does the way we use the land and sea
affect the environment?
How does the way we exploit natural resources change
How do pollution and climate change affect people and
These are the kind of questions we ask and try to answer at
Climate change is probably the greatest threat that we face
during the 21st century. It is potentially far more dangerous
than the threat of terrorism. Our 'footprint' on the environment is
increasingly evident - witness the effects of pollution on people
and wildlife, as well as its global presence in air, water and
Through much of the 20th century the prevailing worldview was
that the environment, and particularly the countryside, was in
a fairly stable state.
We knew that things like changes in agricultural practices and
increases in commercial forestry were altering the appearance of
the landscape, as well as damaging wildlife in localised
What we didn't consider until the later part of the 20th
century were the far-reaching continental and,
indeed, global impacts of our actions. Today, we
recognise that our effect on the global environment is truly a
Although we now recognise the challenges, changes in land use
and management, resource exploitation and development at sea
continue the process of environmental change.
In CCW we are working to tackle the issues of climate change
and pollution. Much of our work aims to enable
sustainable use of the land, sea and other resources across
Wales in ways that are sympathetic to our wildlife and the Welsh
The main thrusts of our work in this area include:
- research programmes to help us to understand more about the
issues of climate change and pollution
- contributing to policy development in these areas
- monitoring growing pollution threats - for example ozone - and
the effectiveness of measures to reduce them - for example our work
in monitoring sulphur dioxide levels (a major cause of 'acid rain')
to assess the condition of our uplands.
Policies to tackle climate change
Policies to deal with climate change focus on reducing energy
use to limit greenhouse gas emissions - the main cause of
- The Kyoto Protocol sets a target for the UK to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5% by 2008-2012.
- The UK Climate Change Programme includes a suite of policies
and measures to achieve this goal - and seeks to do better, wanting
to reduce carbon dioxide levels to 20% below their 1990 levels by
Unfortunately, emissions of greenhouse gases in Wales have risen
over recent years. This means that the Welsh Government's
Environment Strategy and initiatives are vital to Wales
contributing its share of reductions.
CCW is playing its part and has introduced measures to reduce
the use of energy within the organisation. We are also working
closely with Carbon Trust Wales.
Work has also started on policies that will help us to adapt to
the inevitable climate changes of the next forty years.
A new network
The Snowdon Environmental Change Network site is at the
forefront of our work on climate change and pollution and their
complex effects on the Welsh environment and biodiversity.
The weather changes from hour to hour, day to day. Climate is
the average weather within an area over several decades.
Since the 1970s the climate has changed in a major way. The average
annual temperature of the UK rose by 0.5°C during the 20th century,
but it's predicted to rise by another 2°C to 3°C, perhaps even as
much as 5°C during the 21st century.
How the climate is changing
These are some of the predictions derived from four scenarios
for the future prepared for the UK Climate Impacts Programme in
- The number of very hot days, especially in summer and
autumn, is set to rise.
- There will be fewer very cold days in Winter.
- Winters will be wetter and summers are predicted to become
- There will be more contrast between seasons.
- There will be much less snowfall
- Growing seasons will be longer.
- At sea, surface water temperatures will increase around the
- The sea-level will rise by between 11 and 71 cm by the