Understanding climate change through statistics & data

Tree with Right hand side full of leaves on health patch of grass and the other half is dead with no leaves on a dried up patch of mud

Climate change is a challenging and complex issue involving many interacting systems. As Jo Evans explains, robust and accessible statistics aid understanding and equip policymakers, broader stakeholders and citizens to make decisions, and inform more effective response.

In October 2021, the ONS released a prototype UK Climate Change Statistics Portal. Working across government, the ambition was to bring together relevant and timely statistics for analysts and policymakers to inform efforts to reach ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050 and adapt to climate change.

We showcased the prototype Portal at the Glasgow COP26 UN climate change conference this time last year. It brings together climate change-related statistics from a range of sources, using a series of themed dashboards that visualise key data. For those looking for analysis there are articles explaining key statistics, and for those that prefer to do their own analysis, the underlying data are available for download.

We received a lot of positive feedback, and from a much wider range of users than we had expected, including many interested members of the public.

Taking this feedback into account, after a great deal of work we released a new and improved version on 27 October, ahead of COP27 which is currently taking place in Sharm El-‑Sheikh, Egypt.

Improvements to the Portal include: improved display on mobile devices; enhanced interactivity, with the ability to ‘hover-over’ charts and see the underlying figures; easier navigation including access to dashboards; and a greater range of available visualisations.

We have also added new indicators: spending on public energy research, development and demonstration, and carbon dioxide accumulation by UK forests – as well as links to key statistical publications, such as our quarterly Climate Change Insights series which we started in May this year.

The Portal is a product of extensive and ongoing collaboration across government. It is also powered by the Integrated Data Service (IDS), itself also an ONS-led and government-wide partnership. The IDS aims to transform how data about our society, economy and environment is made available for vital research and to inform UK policymakers and the public. We have harnessed IDS capabilities for storing and sharing statistics and data on and through the Portal.

We want to hear your feedback on the Portal and the statistics we present on it, to inform future development. We are keen to hear from all levels of government, businesses, academics, charities and NGOs, and citizens.

Please use the survey tool built into the Portal, and if you have further thoughts contact us at climate.change@ons.gov.uk.

We are also publishing a series of climate-related outputs around COP27, including:

Following COP27 comes a second UN environment conference, the Biodiversity COP15 in Montreal, Canada. Our latest edition of Climate Change Insights looks at statistics on climate change and the natural environment, while we also released the latest UK natural capital accounts statistics and will be releasing our woodland habitats accounts on 15 December. You can also find other future publications on the ONS release calendar.

Jo Evans - Head of Analysis and Coordination, Environment Division

Jo Evans – Head of Analysis and Coordination, Environment Division