Australia faced a rise in temperature of potentially more than 5°C by the end of the century, an increase that would outpace global warming worldwide, the country’s national science agency said on Tuesday.
In its most comprehensive analysis yet of the impacts of climate change, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) painted a worst-case scenario of a rise of up to 5.1°C by 2090 if there are no actions taken to cut greenhouse emissions.
“There is a very high confidence that hot days will become more frequent and hotter,” CSIRO principal research scientist Kevin Hennessy said. “We also have very high confidence that sea levels will rise, oceans will become more acidic, and snow depths will decline.”
The dire warning from the government-funded agency is at odds with the official line from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who in 2009 declared the science of climate change was “crap”.
Abbott last year scrapped a tax on carbon pricing and abolished the independent Climate Commission, saying recent severe droughts that have crippled cattle farmers were “not a new thing in Australia.”
Refusal of Green Climate Fund
As the host of the Group of 20 last year, he attempted to keep climate change off the agenda, resulting in an embarrassing backdown at the Leaders Summit in Brisbane after United States President Barack Obama used a high-profile speech to warn Australia that its own Great Barrier Reef was in danger.
One of the world’s biggest carbon emitters per capita, Australia has declined to join the US, Japan, France and others in contributing to the United Nations’s Green Climate Fund.
Abbott has instead committed $2.21-billion to a domestic initiative to reduce the country’s emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020.
The new research by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, using some 40 global climate models, has Australia warming at a greater rate than the rest of the world.
The 5.1°C projection for 2090 is at the top end of a range starting at 2.8°C and is dependent on how deeply, if at all, greenhouse gas emissions are cut. The world average is for an increase of between 2.6°C and 4.8°C.
The report said the annual average temperature in Australia would likely be up to 1.3°C warmer in 2030 than the average experienced between 1986 and 2005.
2014 the hottest year
Last year, the global temperature was 0.27°C above the average for 1981 to 2000. This makes it the hottest year ever recorded, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, which has records dating back to 1891.
Mail & Guardian reported that the agency released its data, which shows that the 10 hottest years on record have all been mapped since 1998. The World Meteorological Organisation has said that last year was the 38th consecutive year of above-average temperatures.
This is despite 2014 having all the conditions that should have made it colder than usual. The world is in a period of lower solar activity, which has traditionally had a dampening effect on temperatures. There was also no El Niño effect, which drives up temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and, consequently, in large parts of the world.
The report warned that if emissions were not curbed, the impact of climate change would be “severe, pervasive and irreversible”. – Reuters, Staff reporter