A STUNNING new
Climate Council report that reveals the climate system is changing more rapidly
than expected and with larger and more damaging impacts paints a stark picture
of the urgent need for action, Professor Tim Flannery said today.
Climate Change 2015: Growing Risks, Critical Choices provides the most up-to-date,
comprehensive synthesis of climate science in Australia and exposes the extent
of the dramatic changes in the climate system worldwide.
“In short, the
more we know about climate change, the riskier it looks,” Prof Flannery said.
level rise and ice loss are all increasing as the air, the ocean and the land
continues to warm strongly. Extreme weather events like dangerous bushfire
weather are becoming more severe and frequent.
“But this is a
future we don’t have to have. Tackling
climate change and moving to clean, renewable energy is the right thing to do. It’s
the right thing to do to protect our health and wellbeing. The right thing to
do to protect us from economic shocks from worsening extreme weather and
opening new opportunities for jobs and investment in new industries. Unfortunately
the barriers to action are political.”
The report found:
LEVEL RISE: Australian sea
levels are projected to continue to rise through the 21st century at
a rate faster than that over the past four decades or over the 20th
century as a whole. More than $226 billion of buildings and infrastructure are
vulnerable to 1.1m of sea-level rise.
HEAT: Hot days have
doubled in the last 50 years and heatwaves have become hotter, longer and
happen more often. The number of deaths in summer in Australia has steadily
increased over the last 40 years. In the future extreme heat increases are very
likely with more frequent and hotter hot days and longer and more severe
- BUSHFIRE: Extreme bushfire weather has increased in
the south east of Australia in the last 30 years and a “Catastrophic” category
was added following Black Saturday bushfires. Longer and hotter fire seasons in
eastern and southern Australia are likely in the future.
- Arctic sea ice retreat over the past three
decades was unprecedented in at least the last 1,450 years.
- The 1980s, 1990s and 2000s were all hotter
than any other decade in recorded history.
- Sea level rise is accelerating – the
average rate of sea-level rise between 1901 and 2010 was 1.7 mm per year,
increasing to 3.2 mm per year between 1993 and 2010.
The report underscored
that Australia’s post 2020 emissions reduction targets were too weak to protect
Australians from worsening climate change impacts, Professor Will Steffen said.
“As the escalating
risks of climate change have become clearer and more disturbing, other
countries have started to heed the warnings, putting in place tangible and
ambitious policies,” he said.
response to meeting the challenge of Paris is disappointingly weak; it is out
of step with the science and out of step with most of the developed world.”
Hughes said Australia had critical choices to make as country.
“We can embrace
the range of solutions to climate change, which are more feasible and less
costly than ever before, and build a healthier and more economically viable
future or we can continue to pay the many costs that come from delaying action
on climate change,” she said.
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