The 5 main causes of climate change in 2023

Want to do more to tackle the climate crisis but don't know where to start? Our latest guide covers the main causes of climate change, plus how you can help fight it.

2023 saw Europe’s warmest January on record, with Antarctic Sea ice hitting an all-time low. In fact, the global surface temperature was 1.57°F (0.87°C) above the 20th-century average of 53.6°F (12.0°C).

As these temperatures continue to rise, humans and animals alike will face new challenges for survival. Rising sea levels and extreme weather events, such as droughts, wildfires, storms, and flooding, will wreak havoc on livelihoods and communities.  

With more people experiencing ‘climate anxiety’, many are trying to find new ways to reduce their impact on the environment and slow this process down.  

In this blog post we’ll investigate:

  • What the main causes of climate change are  
  • The solutions being created to tackle these issues
  • What more we can do to fight the climate crisis  

What are the main causes of climate change?

Over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.  

As this heat-trapping pollution is released into the atmosphere, the planet continues to warm and destabilise the climate.

So, what causes these emissions and how can we reduce this impact?

⚡️ Generating energy

A lot of power generation for electricity and heating is still done by burning fossil fuels, which accounts for a large chunk of global emissions.

In fact, approximately 84% of the world’s energy consumption needs are met from fossil fuels

However, in the UK, emissions from electricity have gone down rapidly in recent years, thanks to our reductions in burning coal for energy and dramatic increases in renewable energy generation.

🛒 Manufacturing goods

The manufacturing industry is another of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. These industrial emissions come from producing things like cement, iron, steel, electronics, plastics and clothing.

The manufacturing and production sector accounts for one-fifth of global carbon emissions and 54% of the world’s energy usage.  

The production of plastic is especially problematic, not only due to the emissions created during production, but also because not all plastic can be, or is, recycled.  

🚗 Transportation

Cars, buses, trains, trucks, ships and planes, (unless electric and charged with renewable energy), all produce emissions by burning fossil fuels.

In the UK transport is the largest emitter, accounting for 28% of all emissions.  

Road vehicles account for the largest part, due to the combustion of petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines. But emissions from ships and planes continue to grow.  

🍽 Producing food

Producing food causes emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases in various ways. These include deforestation and clearing of land for agriculture and grazing, digestion by cows and sheep, the production and use of fertilizers and manure for growing crops, and the use of energy to run farm equipment or fishing boats, usually with fossil fuels.

All this, plus emissions from packaging and distributing food, makes food production a major contributor to climate change.  

35% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from our food and drink, including emissions overseas from imported food. Not to mention the emissions generated by wasted food.

🗑 Overconsumption and waste

Your home and use of power, how you move around, what you eat and how much you throw away all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. So does the consumption of goods such as clothing, electronics, and plastics.

As we mentioned, because so little plastic is recycled, dealing with waste releases emissions when incinerated or put into landfill – making it a bigger climate problem than it initially seems.

While all our lifestyles have an impact on the planet, the wealthiest bear the greatest responsibility. The richest 1 per cent of the global population combined account for more greenhouse gas emissions than the poorest 50 per cent.

What solutions are being created to tackle climate change?

Thankfully, there are a range of innovative organisations creating solutions to the various issues that contribute to the climate crisis.

Here's a taster:  

⚡️ Renewable energy

As well as reducing the use of fossil fuels, renewable energy has been proven to be the healthiest and cheapest power option in most parts of the world.  

Unlike oil, coal or gas, renewable energy sources don’t pollute the planet or contribute negatively towards climate change. These sources, such as sunlight, wind and waves, will also never run out!  

Many energy companies are moving towards completely renewable energy sources:  

So Energy

Since 2015, So Energy has been supplying great value 100% renewable electricity and gas to homes in the UK.

Learn more about So Energy

OVO Energy

At OVO, you get 100% renewable electricity as standard and access to their carbon-kicking green tech. They’ll also plant a tree in your name every year with the help of their friends at the Woodland Trust.

Learn more about OVO Energy

🛒 Sustainable manufacturing

As Alex Price, Co-founder, and CTO of Ecologi, said on the Founders For Good podcast: ‘As an individual you do have a say – every pound you spend is a vote.’

That’s why considering sustainability and ethics when choosing where to spend your money has never been more important.

There are now lots of ways to ensure you’re making planet-friendly choices, like...    

Social Supermarket

Social Supermarket brings together businesses that are a force for good all under one virtual roof, verified by them and their partner Good Market. These social enterprises and purpose-led brands tackle human and environmental issues so you can make a real difference every time you shop.

Learn more about Social Supermarket

Who Gives A Crap

Who Gives a Crap sells beautiful, forest friendly toilet paper, paper towels and tissues and they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those in need. As much as they love toilet paper, the reason they’re in business is the impact they’re having on the world—To date, Who Gives A Crap has donated over $8 million Aussie dollars to their charity partners.

Learn more about Who Gives A Crap  

🚗 Green Transport

As well as reducing emissions, cleaner transport will also create and support highly skilled jobs. The production of zero-emission road vehicles alone has the potential to support tens of thousands of jobs worth up to £9.7 billion GVA in 2050.

There are plenty of organisations paving the way for green transport, including:  

Pod Point

Pod Point believe travel shouldn’t damage the earth. That’s why they’re building the charging infrastructure needed to enable mass adoption of electric vehicles. Since forming in 2009, they have shipped over 195,000 charge points and developed one of the UK’s largest public networks with over 8,200 charging bays.  

Learn more about Pod Point  


Beryl is the UK's leading micro mobility company, championing sustainable travel options to help reduce road congestion and improve air quality and public health. A B-Corp certified operator, they deliver schemes in partnership with cities and communities, placing people, social responsibility and environmental sustainability at the same level as financial sustainability.  

Learn more about Beryl  

🍽 Sustainable food production

With a whopping 72% of UK land being used for food production, more sustainable methods of food production are being explored, such as vertical farming, alternative protein sources, agroforestry and much more.

What’s worse, 9.5 million tonnes of food is thrown away in a single year, even though 8.4 million people are in food poverty.  

There are lots of ways that companies are working to reduce the impact of food production and wastage, including:


Saved wants more delicious food and less climate change, so they make sustainable eating effortless by adding cricket protein to your favourite everyday foods.

Learn more about Saved  


Entocycle is the UK’s leading insect technology company. Its mission is to accelerate a global transition to sustainable protein through insects and technology.

Learn more about Entocycle  

🗑 Reducing, reusing, recycling

While British households create over 26 million tonnes of waste annually, recycling rates remain low. In terms of cities, London was the worst offender of 2021, with a recycling rate of just 33%.  

There are lots of ways we can reduce the amount of waste we produce, thanks to companies like:


Olio is the app that lets you pass on what you no longer need to people who live nearby. They’re normalising sharing what we no longer need, and make buying new a last resort.  

Learn more about Olio  

Too Good To Go

Too Good To Go is the app that lets you rescue unsold food from an untimely fate at your favourite spots. Use the app to explore shops and restaurants in your local area and save Surprise Bags of surplus food from going to waste at a great price.

Learn more about Too Good To Go

What more can we do to fight the climate crisis?

Here are some climate change resources to check out:  

  • Books

  • Podcasts

  • Documentaries

Looking for a job where you can help tackle climate change? Find careers in climate crisis.