Australia ‘in the climate cross-hairs’: new IPCC report outlines dramatic escalation of climate crisis

01.03.22 By
This content is more than 2 years old

THE RELEASE of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report has clearly shown the clock is ticking on climate, with impacts rapidly accelerating around the globe and Australia is squarely in the cross-hairs.

The report, compiled by almost 300 scientists across 67 countries, clearly spells out that climate change is already dramatically altering ecosystems, affecting our physical and mental health, water security and food production, cities and infrastructure, and more.

Serious risks to Australia include irreversible loss of coral reefs, loss of alpine species, collapse of forests in southern Australia, loss of kelp forests, sea-level rise, an increase in severe fire weather days and a dramatic increase in fatal heatwaves. 

The central message of the IPCC report is clear: governments must rally to drastically cut emissions and cease the extraction and burning of fossil fuels this decade. Every fraction of a degree of warming saved, will be counted in lives saved. 

Professor Will Steffen, former IPCC report author, Climate Councillor, climate change expert and ANU Emeritus Professor said: 

“For most Australians, this report is long, technical and at times dry. But its message is anything but. We are being harmed by climate change now, and the future is potentially terrifying.”

”We are seeing climate change play out in real time with unprecedented rainfall and flooding taking a horrible toll on communities in QLD and NSW. These events will only get worse if we don’t act now to reduce emissions.” 

Climate Council’s Director of Research Dr Simon Bradshaw said: 

“Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries in the world. Right now, communities in Southeast Queensland and Northern NSW are being pummelled by extraordinarily intense rainfall and flooding. These communities have hardly had time to recover from past disasters and again they’re facing profound heartbreak and loss.”

“Increasingly, we see that communities are being hit with one disaster after another, like drought followed by fire, followed by flood. The compounding effect of these disasters is taking a heavy toll.

“The report is very clear: any further delay in global action will miss the brief and closing window to secure a liveable future.” 

Climate Councillor, former IPCC author and Distinguished Professor of Biology at Macquarie University, Professor Lesley Hughes said:

“Right now, inadequate global action means the Earth is heading towards catastrophic warming of over 2°C. Governments must slash emissions this decade and rapidly transition away from burning fossil fuels.

If all countries copied Australia’s dangerously weak response, we would be headed for warming in excess of 3°C – far beyond anything it is possible to adapt to.”

Greg Mullins, Climate Councillor, former Commissioner, Fire and Rescue NSW and founder of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) said: 

“The latest IPCC report spells out a frightening fire future that demands we cut our emissions swiftly and urgently this decade.” 

“It is offensive to me, other firefighters and Australians dealing with climate change, that we are not only the worst climate performer out of all developed countries but we have a federal government that is actively making the problem worse by funding new fossil fuel developments.”

Nicki Hutley, Climate Councillor, leading economist and former Partner at Deloitte Access Economics said: 

“The IPCC report makes it clear that Australia’s economy faces significant and growing economic challenges due to climate change. However, it is also clear that urgent emission reductions through renewable energy and new clean industries could see us avoid the worst financial shocks and bring about incredible economic opportunities, especially for our regions.” 

“Anyone who thinks climate action is “not a race” has obviously not read this report. The first movers in the new industrial revolution will take first, second and third prize. Sadly for Australia, the Morrison Government is moving at a snail’s pace.”

Cheryl Durrant, Climate Councillor and former director of preparedness and mobilisation at the Australian Department of Defence said: 

“Climate change is already undermining the security of Australia and our region. Threats to food and water security, to health, and to critical supply chains, are escalating fast. More and more people are at risk of displacement. If our government cares about the safety and security of our region and beyond, then it must get serious about tackling the climate crisis.”

Dr Kate Charlesworth, Climate Councillor and public health physician said: 

“The IPCC report shows that the climate crisis is a health crisis. What we do in the next decade will be measured in Australian lives. Failing to act will mean many more lives lost from dangerous heat, drought, floods and bushfires.” 

For interviews please contact Brianna Hudson on 0455 238 875 or Jane Gardner on 0438 130 905. 

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.

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