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Australia's top scientists say warming is ‘unequivocal’

05 March 2014
Australia's top scientists say warming is ‘unequivocal’

LONDON: The latest report from Australia’s preeminent climate scientists shows warming across all states and territories is ‘unequivocal’, spotlighting the need for Australia to raise ambition on its minimum 5% emission reduction target and invest in clean energy.

The new State of the Climate research from Australia’s CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, shows that warming has increased each season over the past century in Australia.

Australia’s mean temperature has creeped up by 0.9C since 1910, boosting the frequency, intensity and duration of the country’s heatwaves, bush fires and droughts.

This report comes just days after the Government’s Climate Change Authority warned Australia must triple its carbon emission reduction target to be in with a chance of curbing temperature rises. Australia is currently on track for a temperature that is 1-2.5C higher by 2070.

Dr Megan Clark, Chief Executive, CSIRO, said: “Australia has one of the most variable climates in the world. Against this backdrop, across the decades, we’re continuing to see increasing temperatures, warmer oceans, changes to when and where rain falls and higher sea levels. The sea-surface temperatures have warmed by 0.9C since 1900 and greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise.”

Neil Bennett of the Bureau of Meteorology, said: “The climate doesn’t change like this. This is really remarkable. The last four summers have all either been the hottest or second hottest on record. It’s not just Perth – in Bunbury eight of the hottest summers have occurred since the turn of the century. What we are saying is when you look and see the trend is going up, it seems foolish to try to ignore that trend.”

The Australian Government is committed to a 5% minimum reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 based on 2000 levels. Many organizations and researchers such as The Climate Institute, say that mounting evidence such as the CSIRO report should spotlight that 5% is not a strong enough target.

Australia is well placed to invest in clean energy to help lower its emissions, with the country sourcing a record-breaking 13% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2012. A BNEF report released last year also revealed that wind energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in producing electricity in Australia.

Last week a landmark study of climate regulation across the world showed 62 countries now have 'flagship' legislation on climate change, including Australia, but the country's Clean Energy Act 2011 is flagged for having aspects repealed by the new government. The report comes one year before the COP21 Paris conference, where a global climate deal will be agreed. Delivering an ambitious deal will be conditional on national governments passing effective climate legislation in the meantime.

australia heat

Graphic from State of the Climate research by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology

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By Clare Saxon

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