Climate Change

Climate change touches all aspects of modern life. It threatens the environment, food security, water, the economy, social cohesion and the well-being of humans and other living things.

Greens NSW have developed a climate change policy which recognises that climate change is the greatest challenge of the 21st century. It is all-encompassing and cannot be confined to a single policy. The climate change policy outlines the Greens multi-faceted approach to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change and creating a prosperous low-carbon society, summarised from all of our policies.

Below are some links to independent publications which cover various aspects of climate change, its impacts and options for mitigation and adaptation. The Greens do not necessarily endorse the content of these publications but we provide them as interesting background.

Statement on the Status of World Climate Change 

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year globally on record. The WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015 provides details of last year’s record-breaking land and sea surface temperatures, unabated ocean warming and sea level rise, shrinking sea ice extent, and extreme weather events around the world. It covers many aspects of the climate system, including atmospheric and ocean conditions, El Niño, the cryosphere, greenhouse gas concentrations, regional extremes, tropical cyclones and ozone depletion.

Global temperatures were a staggering 0.76°C above the 1960-1990 average, and 1°C above the pre-industrial era – halfway to the 2°C limit that we need to adhere to in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As well as smashing temperature records, 2015 marked the highest recorded global sea level.

The combination of powerful El Niño conditions and the long-term rise in global temperatures also meant that 2015 was a year of extreme weather events worldwide.

The Climate Council

The Climate Council is an independent, crowd-funded, organisation which was launched following the abolition of the government funded Climate Commission. It has published numerous reports on various aspects of climate change with a particular focus on the impact of climate change in Australia. Here are links to a few reports:

The heat marches on – March 2016

Heat records were broken again in early 2016 as the climate sends us yet another disturbing wake-up call

Key findings:

1. Exceptionally long and hot warm spells in early March in south eastern Australia smashed records, contributing to the escalating number of heat records in Australia and globally as the climate warms rapidly.

2. These off-the-charts temperatures are driving dramatic and unprecedented climate impacts.

3. As Australians continue to suffer from more frequent and worsening extreme heat events, the path to tackling climate change is becoming more urgent: no new coal mines can be built, existing coal mines and coal-fired power stations must be phased out and renewable energy must be scaled up rapidly.

The Silent Killer:Climate change and the health impacts of extreme heat – March 2016

Key findings:

  1. Climate change is a serious health threat for many Australians.
  2. As extreme heat events worsen, the risk of adverse human health impacts is increasing.
  3. Heatwaves can put intense pressure on health services.
  4. While the health sector has made significant steps in improving resilience to heatwave events, more needs to be done.
  5. Reducing green house gas emissions rapidly and deeply is the best way to protect Australians from worsening extreme heat events.

The burning issue – Climate Change and the Australian bushfire threat Nov 2105

Key findings:

  1. Record-breaking spring temperatures in 2015, exacerbated by climate change, have driven an early start to the bushfire season in Australia.
  2. North America has faced a deadly bush fire season in 2015.
  3. Australia’s bushfire preparedness is at risk from climate change as bushfire seasons increasingly lengthen and overlap with fire seasons in the Northern Hemisphere.
  4. Stronger climate change action is needed to reduce bushfire risk.

Feeding a hungry nation:Climate Change, food and farming in Australia – October 2015

Key findings

  1. Climate change is making weather patterns more extreme and unpredictable,with serious consequences for Australia’s agricultural production.
  2. More frequent and intense heatwaves and extreme weather events are already affecting food prices in Australia.
  3. Climate change is affecting the quality and seasonal availability of many foods in Australia.
  4. Australia is extremely vulnerable to disruptions in food supply through extreme weather events.
  5. Australia’s international competitiveness in many agricultural markets will be challenged by the warming climate and changing weather patterns.
  6. If the current rate of climate change is maintained, adaptation to food production challenges will be increasingly difficult and expensive.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF)

ACF is a long established Australian environmental advocate with a focus on the protection of Australia’s environment and ecological sustainability. It has published numerous reports on various aspects of climate change and environmental conservation more generally. See a sample below.

Saving Australia’s special places: The natural icons we stand to lose from a weak response to climate change  May 2016

Climate change and the Great Barrier Reef

There have been numerous reports about the threats facing the Great Barrier Reef. A key threat is climate change which impacts the reef through the threat of warming and acidification of sea water.

Australia’s coral reefs under threat from climate change- May 2016

The Climate Council reports that a disaster is unfolding in one of the world’s most precious natural icons, the Great Barrier Reef. Rapidly warming oceans, driven by climate change from the burning of fossil fuels and an El Niño event, has led to a global bleaching event. Its key findings are that:

1. The longest global coral bleaching event on record is underway due to record breaking ocean temperatures driven by climate change and El Niño.

2. Coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically valuable ecosystems on Earth, but they are under threat from climate change.

3. The future of coral reefs around the world depends on how much and how fast we reduce greenhouse gas emissions now and in the coming years and decades.

The Conversation has published several articles about the threats to the Great Barrier Reef

David Attenborough says the great barrier reef is in gave danger , its time to step up – April 20 2106

Ocean acidification is already harming the Great Barrier Reef’s growth 25 February 2016

Great Barrier Reef Threats series:

Climate change is only one of the threats facing the Great Barrier Reef. Others include pollution from agricultural activities on land and other developments, such as the construction of ports and other infrastructure, dredging and shipping within the reef.

Australia scrubbed from UN climate change report after government intervention  27 May 2016

An article published in The Guardian revealed that all mentions of Australia were removed from the final version of a UNESCO report on climate change and world heritage sites after the Australian government objected on the grounds it could impact on tourism. Will Steffen, an emeritus professor at the ANU, head of the Climate Council and one of the scientific reviewers of the axed section on the reef, said Australia’s move was reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, saying ‘it’s very rare that I would see something like this happening. Perhaps in the old Soviet Union you would see this sort of thing happening, where governments would quash information because they didn’t like it. But not in western democracies.’ The federal Environment Department has justified its involvement, telling The Guardian: ‘Recent experience in Australia had shown that negative commentary about the status of world heritage properties impacted on tourism.’

Read the draft chapter deleted from UNESCO’s report.

More information on the threat to The Great Barrier Reef – click here


Posted May 2016