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Climate Crisis

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Explore the meaning of the term ‘climate crisis’, what has caused it and who is most at risk. As well as how Practical Action’s work is supporting those on the front line of the climate crisis to adapt and thrive.

What is the climate crisis?

Climate change is the defining crisis of our time and its impacts continue to escalate at an unprecedented speed.

Climate change threatens our food and water security, increases the occurrence of extreme weather events and resulting disasters, intensifies conflict around resources such as land, food, and water, and triggers humanitarian crises across the world.

In the face of these escalating impacts, climate crisis (or climate emergency) has become a widely used term to emphasise the urgency and inevitability of climate change and to call for bold and collective action to halt and reverse its impacts.

Cars submerged in floodwater

In the UK, the climate crisis has caused flooding, leading to loss of life and damage to property.

What has caused the climate crisis?

The climate crisis is the result of climate change caused by burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. When burnt, fossil fuels release carbon dioxide into the air, causing the planet to heat up. Watch this video, , How does the climate system work?, from the Met Office to understand the forces at work in the earth’s atmosphere.

How does the climate system work?


Who suffers the worst impacts of the climate crisis?

Poorer areas are often hardest hit. Poverty forces people into disaster-prone areas where making a living is almost impossible. And it means they’re ill-equipped to adapt to the changing climate, leaving them even more vulnerable to future disasters.

Arid farmland in Kenya caused by the climate crisis

In the poor and remote area of Turkana in Kenya, climate change has led to longer and more severe droughts. Fertile farmland has been lost to the desert. Smallholder farmers, with no other means of making a living, are losing their livelihoods.

What is Practical Action doing?

We’re helping people adapt to existing changes and prepare for future ones. We work closely with communities to develop simple, practical solutions that can help minimise the ways in which floods, droughts and extreme weather affect their lives and opportunities.

We’re helping to make resilience a way of life, by advising people on how to adapt their lives to a changing climate and put plans and systems in place to predict natural hazards and stop them turning into disasters. We’re contributing to joint efforts to promote environmentally sound technologies for low carbon and climate resilient development.

We define resilience as the ability of a system, community, or society to pursue its social, ecological, and economic development and growth objectives, while managing its disaster risk over time in a mutually reinforcing way. This captures the essential forward-looking component of resilience; we do not want people to be resilient while denying their aspirations to improve their wellbeing.

Floating Garden, Bangladesh

We’re working with farmers in Bangladesh to develop new ways to farm in the face of rising sea levels caused by the climate crisis.

Our key areas of focus:

  • Advising people on how to adapt their lives to a changing climate
  • Working with communities to put systems in place to predict natural hazards and prepare plans to minimise their impact
  • Promoting environmentally sound technologies for low carbon and climate resilient development.
Women in Peru taking part in an evacuation drill in response to floods caused by the climate crisis.

We’re working with communities in Peru, where the climate crisis is causing more severe floods, droughts and landslides. Together, we’re developing early warning systems and building evacuation plans that are protecting lives.


Our teams around the world are seeing with their own eyes the impact of climate change on people in poor areas. But we’re also demonstrating that ingenuity can help them adapt and thrive.