Hitting Home: The Compounding Costs of Climate Inaction

27.01.21 By and
This content is more than 3 years old

Many will remember 2020 as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet for millions of people around the world, the virus served as a backdrop to another battle as we lived through the most intense period yet of climate fuelled extreme weather.

Unprecedented fires, extreme heat, powerful cyclones and devastating floods all occurred in 2019-20, capping off a decade in which the climate crisis hit hard.

Hitting Home: The Compounding Costs of Climate Inaction outlines the latest science on how climate change is driving more destructive heatwaves, downpours, cyclones, droughts, fires and other extreme weather events. It highlights significant events in Australia and around the world from the past two years. Taken alone, any one of the events described in this report – from Australia’s Black Summer bushfires to the record breaking North Atlantic hurricane season, or the remarkable Siberian heatwave – would mark the year as unusual. Taken together, they paint a disturbing portrait of our rapidly escalating climate emergency.


The cover of a report, with text saying 'Hitting home: the compounding costs of climate inaction', in front if an image of flooding roads.

Key Findings

1. 2019-20 was an exceptionally intense period for climate-fuelled extreme weather, with heavy costs felt in Australia and around the world.

2. Some extreme weather events show ‘tipping point’ behaviour when a critical level of heat or drought triggers a massive, devastating event.


3. Ignoring climate change is deadly. Australians are now paying the price for our own and the world’s failure to reduce emissions quickly enough or deeply enough.

4. No developed country has more to lose from climate change-fuelled extreme weather, or more to gain as the world transforms to a zerocarbon economy, than Australia does.