Climate change – the facts

We are committed to raising awareness of, and action on, climate change in all parts of society in Scotland. We manage the Climate Challenge Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government. We inspire and enable anyone to take action through Carbon Literacy and we work with organisations to measure, manage and reduce their carbon emissions. 

Guide to climate change

Download our Guide to Climate Change covering causes and impacts of climate change, plus ways to help tackle it.

What is climate change and what’s causing it?

Climate change is a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns or average temperatures. Scientific evidence shows that the average temperature of the planet’s surface has risen in recent years – it’s now about 1C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times.

The climate is a complex system, so seemingly small changes in average temperature could have large impacts on factors that influence life – such as the amount of rainfall and extreme high or low temperatures.  Some people suggest we shouldn’t be talking about climate change, but that ‘climate chaos’ or ‘climate breakdown’ are more appropriate terms.

Climate change is happening because humans have changed our atmosphere.  As we’ve burned more and more fossil fuels we’ve increased the amount of greenhouse gases that trap heat.

Climate change and what's causing it

You can read more about what climate change is and what’s causing it in part two of our Carbon Literacy guide: A brief introduction to climate change.

Greenhouse gases and carbon footprints

We support organisations to measure, monitor and implement plans to reduce their carbon emissions through our Carbon Management service (LINK)

Scientists tell us that to avoid serious consequences for communities and nature worldwide we need to limit global warming to 1.5C.  The only way to do this is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, and we all have our part to play. 

The first step is to understand what greenhouse gases are and where they come from.  Only then can we take actions to reduce them.  A carbon footprint describes all the greenhouse gas emissions that result from the activities of an individual or organisation.  The good news is reducing emissions nearly always brings other benefits – like healthier lifestyles, money saving and improved local environments. 


The impact of everyday actions

Section 3 of our Carbon Literacy Guide explains how every day actions have an impact on climate change and how you can take steps to reduce emissions using the simple ‘Do it Less or Do it Differently' approach. 

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