The world’s most authoritative group of climate experts warn that the world is on the brink of climate disaster.
We all know things are getting bad. The path to a better world is clear. But our government is fiddling while Rome burns.
Things have to change.
The report is by a Working Group on the physical science basis of climate change, which will contribute to a forthcoming status report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 750 authors and editors contributed to this report, which is based on over 14 thousand references and 78 thousand comments by experts and governments.
No-one knows more about climate than this group.
The bad news
The report confirms what we already know – climate change is having an increasing destructive effect NOW.
- Global temperatures continue to increase – averaging about 1.1°C worldwide, and 1.4°C in Australia. This will continue to increase – rapidly if the world and Australia don’t make changes, and more slowly if we really act – causing increasingly severe heat waves.
- The water cycle is changing, with more extremes of drought and flood, and less “normal” rainfalls. Areas further from the equator will generally experience higher rainfall, while more tropical areas will generally experience less.
- Oceans are warming, becoming more acid and less oxygenated, damaging ecosystems and fisheries. Ice melt is increasing water levels and coastal flooding.
- Many cities are becoming less liable, due to rising heat, increased flooding, sea level rise and storm surges.
These effects will continue and worsen, and will particularly affect the NSW coastal region. Catastrophic bushfires will be more common in the hotter drier weather, coastal erosion will worsen, farming will become more difficult due to increased drought. Every fraction of a degree matters.
Those who oppose decisive climate action, including in our own government, will be directly responsible for some of this.
There is a way forward
We know what needs to be done, but our government refuses to do it.
Australia is well placed to develop renewable energy sources, especially wind and solar, but also hydroelectricity, tidal and geothermal. We could be a powerhouse of renewable energy for southeast Asia.
A single government action could achieve all this.
The government currently gives the fossil fuel industry substantial subsides – some estimate that direct subsidies alone amount to about $10 billion per year. This is far more than subsidies to renewable energy.
If the government announced an immediate phasing out of the fossil fuel subsidies and a ramping up of subsidies to renewables, business would be given a clear signal, and Australia’s renewable energy industry would create profits and jobs.
It seems that the present government is unwilling to upset its allies and donors, even though this would be best for Australia and the world.
And then ….
A big step would be to commit to net zero emissions as soon as possible. Independent MP Zali Steggall’s Climate Change Bill shows the way. Instead of opposing it, the government and the oppositions could support it.
The government could support the move to electric vehicles instead of opposing it. The NRMA is on board, why isn’t government?
Fear of change and loss of income for some industries hides the fact that lack of action means Australia will pay an enormous cost down the track, for which this government will be responsible.
What can we do?
We can get informed.
We can spread the word.
We can lobby the government.
And we can #VoteThemOut.
- Sixth Assessment Report. The Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report is now out. IPCC August 2021.
- Climate change widespread, rapid, and intensifying – IPCC. IPCC, August 2021.
- What does theIPCC’s latest report mean? Climate Council, August 2021.
- Climate change report from IPCC a ‘code red for humanity’, United Nations chief warns. ABCNews, August 2021.
Graphic of world map taken from the Working Group I report for the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report.