Human activity is driving climate change. This is affecting and will affect many aspects of life on earth. The breadth of its impacts is very wide and covers human, animal and plant health, and also the planet's biodiversity and the services that deliver benefits to people from natural capital. Finding solutions to the challenge of climate change will require multidisciplinary action in which the life sciences have a major role to play as this issue of Emerging Topics in Life Sciences indicates. More process and mechanistic knowledge could underpin solutions or even provide early warning of impacts. Any solutions will need to be developed and deployed in ways that gain and maintain public support.