CSIRO Projections: Prevention better than cure Media Release

Oct 02, 2007 - 5:08am

New climate change projections released by the CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology paint a grim picture of the inheritance we are leaving future Australians, but highlights that action to reduce greenhouse pollution will reduce climate impacts.

“The current drought illustrates the legacy we are leaving our children if governments fail to reverse rising greenhouse pollution,” said John Connor, Chief Executive of the Climate Institute.

“With no action to turn the tide on our rising greenhouse pollution levels Australia’s top climate scientists suggest increases in the number of months in drought across eastern and south Western Australia of up to 40-80%.”

The CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology also project:

  • Annual warming of 3.4oC above 1990 levels with high levels of emissions and 1.8oC with “low emissions” by 2070. 
  • Average Australian temperatures rose 0.9oC from 1950 until the present “likely to be mostly due to increases in greenhouse gases from human activities”.
  • Heat waves more than double by 2070 with high levels of emissions. For example, in Sydney and Adelaide the number of days that experience days over 35oC more than doubles, while in Brisbane it increases eightfold. At these sites low emissions growth reduces the number of heat waves by around 30% or more.

Lower emissions also lowers the chance of large declines in rainfall. For example, around Perth with high levels of emissions the chance of seeing a further 20% reduction in rainfall is around 50%. With low emissions Perth is unlikely to see further declines in rainfall of this magnitude.

“These projections give us a window into the future that we could be leaving our kids, disturbingly we are already experiencing the impacts described in this report like hotter, drier droughts and more frequent and severe bushfires. But by taking urgent action now we can avoid the worst impacts of climate change and create a more hopeful future for our kids.”

“Low greenhouse pollution levels means lower levels of climate change, however even the “low emissions” scenario described by CSIRO won’t be enough to avoid what scientists describe as “dangerous climate change” and limit global warming to 2oC above pre-industrial levels (figure 1).  To do this we need decisive leadership from government to ensure emissions peak in developed countries like Australia in the next five years and then decline.”

“No political party has a plan for Australia’s future unless it has clear plans to reverse our rising greenhouse pollution, ensure all new electricity comes from clean energy and join the rest of the world to building on the Kyoto framework to reduce greenhouse pollution.”

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