The Government recognise the need to work with business and individuals to help make changes that benefit the environment, including becoming more energy efficient.
As a key part of this work, the Government will make efforts to help people understand the link between their own actions, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and climate change. We are developing, in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust (EST) a web-based CO2 calculator for individuals and households. Based on an individual's or household's lifestyle, the calculator will provide a profile of the user's direct CO2 emissions. It will also give tailored recommendations about how these can be reduced.
The Government fund extensive research into the effects of natural and human factors on the climate through the research councils, predominantly the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), and Defra. Defra's activities include the funding of the world-leading Met Office Hadley Centre.
UK research made a significant contribution to the recently published Fourth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This report assessed the relative contributions of different natural and man-made forcings on the climate over the past century. It concluded that it is very likely that observed global warming over at least the past 50 years was predominantly caused by increases in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Changes in solar output may have contributed to some early 20th century warming, but cannot explain the recent strong rise in global temperatures.
Over the century as a whole, the warming effect of changes in solar output is estimated to have been only around one-tenth of that due to the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations. There is no evidence suggesting that cosmic ray variations have played a significant role in warming over the past century.