Record-breaking temperatures linked to climate change are likely to become more frequent in Australia, the country’s Climate Commission has warned.
The country recently experienced its hottest summer since records began in 1910, with area-averaged temperatures hitting 40.30°C (104.54°F) on January 7.
The 12-page report, entitled ‘Angry Summer’ warns the government that it needs to plan for further intense temperatures, as well as intense rainfall and flooding.
“All extreme weather events are now occurring in a climate system that is warmer and moister than it was 50 years ago,” it says.
“This influences the nature, impact and intensity of extreme weather events. Climate change is already adversely affecting Australians.
“The significant impacts of extreme weather on people, property, communities and the environment highlight the serious consequences of failing to adequately address climate change.”
The Commission, which is state funded, calls on the government to explore further ways to decarbonise the Australian economy.
“In Australia and around the world we need to urgently invest in clean energy sources and take other measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. This is the critical decade to get on with the job.”
In July 2012 Julia Gillard’s administration controversially introduced a price for carbon, as well as signing up for an extension to the Kyoto Protocol.
But critics point out that the country is the world’s leading exporter of black coal, much of it heading to China and India.
Last year Greenpeace Australia released a report revealing that if the coal in the untapped Galilee Basin in Queensland is mined, Australia could create more carbon pollution than the entire emissions of the United Kingdom or Canada.
GRAPHIC 1: Few regions were unaffected in Australia
GRAPHIC 2: Relationship between average and extremes
GRAPHIC 3: The influence of climate change on the water cycle