All of these would have a severe impact on people’s health and quality of life, the economy and the natural environment.

Figures published by the Met Office, and presented by senior Ministers on Thursday, highlighted the severity of climate change the UK is likely to face.

The projection of an increase of 3.9°C temperature increase in the South West by 2080 is way over the generally accepted ‘safe’ global level of a 2°C increase.

The figures also suggest rainfall in the summer will drop off by around 13% by 2040 and in the winter increase by around 24% by 2080, dramatically increasing the risk of drought and flooding.

Sea levels are also expected to rise over the next 70 years by up to 40cm on the tip of the Cornish peninsula.

Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn said: “There is no doubt about it – climate change is the biggest challenge facing the world today.

“Climate change is already happening – the hottest ten years on record globally have all been since 1990. This landmark scientific evidence shows not only that we need to tackle the causes of climate change but also that we must deal with the consequences.”

He said that the projections highlighted the need for climate change adaptation strategies, as well as continuing efforts to curb carbon emissions.

“The projections will allow us to make sure we have a resilient infrastructure to cope – whether it’s the design of school buildings or protection of new power plants, maintaining the supply of drinking water, adjusting ways of farming for drier summers or understanding how our homes and businesses will have to adapt,” said Mr Benn.

The UK Climate Projections will be used to help public sector organisations plan for inevitable and unavoidable climate change.

Mr Benn said that they also brought home the importance of reaching an effective agreement when world leaders meet to discuss the next step in the global fight against climate change in Copenhagen in December.

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie