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.
“Heatwaves, sea 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:
SEA 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.
EXTREME 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 heatwaves.
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.
“But Australia’s 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.”
Professor Lesley Hughes said Australia had critical choices to make as country.
Press link for more: climatecouncil.org