New research shows climate extremes of today will be the normal of tomorrow: new long-term, national agenda for climate action in Australia now urgent Media Release

Aug 24, 2016 - 12:30am

Research released by The Climate Institute today, not only graphically explains the scientific and economic reasons why it is critical for Australia to commit to more credible emissions reductions, but underscores the urgency for our country to adopt an inclusive and long-term national agenda for climate action.

“Climate change is already at dangerous levels, as we experience around 1°C of warming. This research makes it abundantly clear even warming of 1.5°C would see current extreme heat waves, droughts and mass coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef becoming the new normal,” said CEO, John Connor.

“At 2°C, 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.”

The Institute commissioned the globally recognised science and policy institute, Climate Analytics, to examine the implications of achieving the objective of last December’s Paris Agreement. That agreement seeks to limit global warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-Industrial levels, and to pursue action to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Climate Analytics assessed a range of possible climate impacts in Australia with 1.5°C and 2°C global warming. For example, under a 1.5°C scenario, heatwaves could last up to 15 days for central and southern parts of Australia and up to about 30-40 days for the northern part. In 2°C warming, this could last around 20 days for central and southern part of Australia and up to 60 days in the northern part. The 2009 heatwave in southern Australia that killed hundreds and fueled the Black Saturday bushfires was just five days long.

The Climate Institute also asked Climate Analytics to set out the global emissions pathways consistent with limiting warming to less than 1.5°C and 2°C.

“With national economies, energy use and global climate inextricably linked, limiting warming to the more ambitious 1.5°C goal, or even 2°C, is heavily reliant on transforming our energy system,” said Connor. “In essence, this is a shift away from reliance on coal and other fossil fuels, towards a combination of renewables on the energy-supply side and energy efficiency improvements on the demand side.”

“Essentially, we are saying that achieving emissions reduction targets will require transformation; not achieving them will require even greater transformation as we struggle to cope with growing climate impacts,” he said.

Connor said the Australian government’s 2017 review of climate policies, and its promised consideration of long term targets, will be an important opportunity to integrate climate, energy and economic policy. It represents the first chance for a credible national policy conversation in five years.

“While research like this provides the evidence for an urgent, credible, bipartisan, long-term suite of policies at the federal level, it is just as important that they are fair and inclusive, while minimising unnecessary costs to business,” Connor said.

“Our National Agenda for Climate Action, also released today, provides a comprehensive roadmap for achieving these outcomes across three inter-related policy dimensions: 1) Setting a credible pathway to net zero emissions; 2) Ensuring investor, business and community confidence in clean energy; and 3) Integrating climate costs and opportunities into mainstream decision-making.”

The National Agenda for Climate Action, Beyond the Limits: Australia in a 1.5-2°C World policy brief and original Climate Analytics report are available on The Climate Institute website.

For more information: Brinsley Marlay ● Media Manager ● 0422 140 555 

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