What are the potential impacts of climate change in Cornwall?

Changes in the climate have implications for all elements of life in Cornwall.

Climate change will not only have an impact on the environment, but also on society and the economy.

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As an extreme Atlantic coastal area, Cornwall currently has a generally temperate maritime climate. 

Wetter, stormier winters and hotter drier summers will directly impact, for example, biodiversity, water resources, infrastructure, health, tourism and agriculture. 

Increased rainfall, storminess and sea level rise have great significance in terms of Cornwall's vulnerability to the effects of climate change as a particularly exposed peninsula.

Some of the impacts are potentially negative including the need for significant adaptation in the design and location of buildings and infrastructure.

Climate Change is a global problem, with significant impacts on the local scale. Changes likely to be experienced in the South West are:

  • Temperature - average warming of 1.0 to 2.5oc, very warm years becoming more frequent.
  • Precipitation - 5-15% wetter winters, 15-30% drier summers, heavy rainfall more common, significant decrease in snowfall, greater contrast between summer and winter seasons.
  • Cloud cover - reduction in summer and autumn cloud cover, small increase in winter cloud cover.
  • Extreme weather events - more severe and frequent events such as river and coastal flooding.

Above all, however, Cornwall recognises its wider responsibilities and the need to contribute positively to national and international efforts to combat the causes of climate change and reduce its impacts globally.