FOREWORD

Not only is the climate changing, it is affecting our natural world, society and economy. In order to track these changes as they happen across the UK, we have gathered together the first set of indicators that are influenced by climate. These indicators cover climate such as temperature and rainfall but also include environmental and economic pointers such as risk of flooding, egg-laying dates of birds, abundance of butterflies and effects on the Scottish skiing industry.

This set of indicators will help to raise awareness of how our climate is changing, the pace of change and how it is altering the fabric of our natural and man-made world forever.

As greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise we can expect more climatic changes. Evidence of  a changing climate strengthens the already overwhelming case for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. The UK has taken a leading role in negotiations to agree the Kyoto Protocol under which the European Union have a legally binding target to cut emissions by 8% against 1990 levels, of which we have a 12.5% share. We've also taken on a domestic goal to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20%. Although I cannot emphasise enough the need for action globally to tackle greenhouse gas emissions these indicators also suggest that we need to turn our attention to adapting to climate change.

This set of indicators will alert us to the impact of climate change as it develops in the UK and instill a sense of urgency in responding to it.

Minister of State for the Environment
Rt Hon Michael Meacher