What causes climate change?
Some changes to the earth's climate are caused by the effects on each other of the sun, land, oceans and atmosphere. These often occur over very long periods of time.
Humans increase greenhouse gases through many daily activities.
When we burn fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas, we release the carbon dioxide (CO2) that has been stored in them for thousands of years. Massive burning of fossil fuels in just a few decades has emitted huge amounts of CO2 which is a greenhouse gas.
Living, growing trees help to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, so our present trend towards deforestation of the planet means less CO2 is being absorbed.
The two trends – burning fossil fuels and cutting down trees have increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Humans are also responsible for other greenhouse gases such as methane which is released through landfill waste, intensive farming, coal mining and leaky natural gas pipelines.
In the UK, 40% of CO2 emissions are caused by individuals, mostly from energy used in the home, driving and air travel.