People, Environment

Australia Losing Climate Change Battle

With a 2°C global temperature rise, Australia can experience months of heat wave. With a 2°C global temperature rise, Australia can experience months of heat wave.

Heat waves for one month each year and 10% less precipitation Australia-wide are just some of the impacts predicted even if the globe meets the most optimistic goal of an international climate agreement.

New research, commissioned by the Climate Institute, found Australia would be significantly impacted if the globe warms by 1.5°C—the aspirational target at last year’s United Nations climate change conference, reported.

At that temperature, the north of the country would experience heat waves for one month each year, while the south would be hit for about two weeks. Coral reefs would be severely impacted and there would be 10% less water nationwide, and up to 30% less in some regions.

Last year, 196 parties signed the first binding international climate agreement, agreeing to limit global warming to well below 2°C.

The globe is now experiencing warming of about 1°C, a level the institute says is already dangerous.

“At two degrees, our global climate system would move from the upper end of present day climate variability into uncharted territory, resulting in extreme, costly and dangerous impacts for Australia,” chief executive John Connor said.

The research by Climate Analytics found that with a 2°C global temperature rise, northern residents can expect heat waves for about two months of the year and the south will get them for about three weeks.

Virtually all tropical coral reefs would be severely degraded and sea level rise would hit about 50 cm by 2100.

The institute has released a roadmap for cutting carbon emissions and ending up on a trajectory to net zero emissions by 2050.

The basic message is that the longer the country puts off strong action, the harder it will become. That is because the globe has a “carbon budget” to keep global warming under 2°C and if Australia keeps using its allocation of that budget now, there will be less to access later.

It would mean drastic cuts to emissions, potentially impacting jobs and power prices.

The government has promised to cut emissions by 26-28% by 2030 and review its direct action climate policy next year.

Connor believes the review and government consideration of longer term targets is the first chance for credible climate policy conversation for five years.