Climate Change Effects in the South West

In 2003, Climate SouthWest (then known as the South West Climate Change Impacts Partnership) commissioned a scoping study, Warming to the Idea: Meeting the challenges of climate change in the South West.  This study investigated the likely impacts of climate change on the South West and set out what needs to be done to adapt.  In 2010 the original ‘Warming to the idea’ summary report was updated to reflect recent developments in climate science, as well as an improved understanding of the key issues, priorities and adaptation opportunities for the South West. 

A copy of the 2010 publication can be found at:

In 2008 Somerset County Council published Responding to Climate Change in Somerset which set out a programme for development of a Climate Change Action Plan involving all Service Areas within the remit of Somerset County Council.  Implementation of the Action Plan will enable the Authority to provide effective leadership, advice and encouragement to stakeholders and communities in both tackling and adapting to the causes and effects of climate change across the County.  A copy of the publication can be found at:

Potential impacts of climate change

Climate change will bring a number of adverse and beneficial impacts to a wide range of sectors.

Potential Adverse Impacts expected most widely include:

  • an increase in the risk of flooding and erosion
  • drainage systems unable to cope
  • possible winter storm damage
  • habitat and wildlife losses
  • summer water shortages and low stream flows
  • increased subsidence risk in subsidence prone areas
  • increased demand for summer cooling
  • increasing thermal discomfort in buildings
  • increases in health problems – heat-related illness and incidence of respiratory problems
  • reduced quality and yields of some crops due to heat stress, drought, disease and pests

Commonly perceived Potential Benefits include:

  • less winter transport disruption
  • reduced demand for winter heating
  • less cold-related illness
  • increase yields of some crops

Opportunities are anticipated:

  • agricultural and horticultural diversification
  • increased tourism and leisure
  • a shift to more outdoor-oriented lifestyles
  • developing renewable energy sources

The impacts are explored further within the Managing Flood Risk chapter.

PDFIf you would like to know more about the impacts on agriculture and biodiversity click here.