To coincide with international climate talks convening in Poland this week, the United Nations meteorological agency has released an analysis of this year’s global weather data. According to ABC news, Michel Jarraud of the World Meteorological Organisation said “2013 is likely to be one of the top 10 warmest years since records began.” Australia, he noted, had experienced “the world's biggest increase in average temperatures”.
Jarraud was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases had reached new heights in 2012 and were expected to exceed those levels in 2013.
A draft report from the Climate Change Authority (CAA), this government’s independent climate advisory body, has recommended that Australia aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 per cent by 2030 as a contribution to global efforts to avoid two degrees of planetary warming by 2050. This is the level at which severe weather disruption will start to take place.
The authority clearly stated that the current target of a 5 per cent cut to emissions, based on 2000 levels, is inadequate and should be 15 per cent at an absolute minimum.
These findings are not news to respected climate scientists, including those preparing reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who have been calling for more drastic cuts for years. Globally, there has been “a mix of shock and dismay at reports that Australia will not move beyond the existing 5% target to cut carbon emissions by 2020”, the ABC reports.
In light of this, and reports from the CAA and the IPCC, the current Australian targets do not present genuine solutions to the problems that face Australia, and the planet, if the full effects of climate change take hold.
It is surely time for Australian citizens to come out of their recent slumber on climate change action and acknowledge the enormity of the issue and the need to convince governments to take urgent measures now.
By: Steve Payne
First published: November 2013