THE CLIMATE COUNCIL says Australia needs to greatly accelerate action in dealing with climate change, following the release of a new report from the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO.
“The State of the Climate report, released every two years, reveals that Australia’s climate has warmed by just over 1°C since 1910, leading to an increase in the frequency and intensity of many extreme weather events,” said Climate Councillor Professor Will Steffen.
“Carbon dioxide is the most important of the greenhouse gases driving climate change and Australia is in the world’s top 15 emitters. Even worse, unlike the trends for most other wealthy countries, our greenhouse gas pollution has risen over the past three years,” said Professor Steffen.
Not only is Australia a global laggard on action to reduce pollution, we are also one of the most vulnerable of the developed countries to the impacts and risks of climate change, he said.
Australia is experiencing climate change now, with the report noting that eight of the country’s top ten warmest years on record have occurred since 2005.
“Climate change is driving many of the trends we are seeing and further warming is locked in until at least 2030 because of the greenhouse gases we have already emitted. Temperatures will continue to increase with more hot days and fewer cold days,” said Professor Steffen.
The report notes that sea surface temperatures have warmed, leading to more frequent and intense marine heatwaves, which in turn have triggered mass bleaching events on large parts of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017. This poses a major long-term threat to the resilience of the Reef.
Climate change has also contributed to an increase in extreme fire weather over recent decades, especially in southern and eastern Australia.
“One of the great challenges Australia faces is adapting to significantly worse bushfire conditions. Fire seasons have become longer and periods of serious fire weather are now more frequent. This puts much greater pressure on firefighters and increases the need for more resources,” said Climate Councillor and former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner, Greg Mullins.
“To protect Australians from worsening climate impacts, the Federal government must have a credible climate policy in place to rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas pollution while adapting to a more dangerous world,” said Mr Mullins.
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