The Guardian, UK,
Saturday December 8 2007
Climate change is already hitting the UK, with temperatures in central England rising by around 1C since the 1970s thanks in part to human activity, a government- funded report has warned.
The research was published yesterday by the environment secretary, Hilary Benn, as officials gathered in Bali to begin negotiations on a new international deal to combat climate change.
The report forms part of a £2m programme which will help families and businesses to find out how changes will affect them.
It warned that 2006 was the warmest year to date on the central England temperature register - which has measurements stretching back to 1659 - and said it was likely that human activity had been a "significant influence" on recent warming. Ten of the 15 warmest calendar years on record, including the top three, occurred in the last two decades.
It also found that sea surface temperatures around the UK coast have risen by about 0.7C over the past three decades. But it added that it could not attribute the warmer climate in Scotland and Northern Ireland - where temperatures have risen by 0.8% since 1980 - to specific causes.
Based mainly on data from the Met Office, the report is the first of five from the UK Climate Impact Programme 08, which will launch a climate change projection website late next year.
The site could allow homeowners to calculate the likelihood they will experience flooding due to increased rainfall, or ensure that engineers account for the impact of higher temperatures when working with metal structures, for example.
Benn said the report showed climate change was already affecting the UK as well as other countries around the world. "Climate change is the biggest challenge we face as a global community and to which no one is immune," he said.
"All of us - governments, businesses and individuals - need to be able to plan for the future. This [project] will put us face to face with what the climate might look like in our own backyard and challenge us to think about how to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change."