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Climate change in Australia - statistics & facts

Rising global temperatures and climate change have adversely affected Australia in many areas, with the consequences becoming more obvious in recent years. Extremely high temperatures and drought are significant environmental threats to Australia; the country experienced one of its hottest summers on record in 2018/19. Australia is already the driest inhabited continent on earth and recent climate modelling has indicated that without action, the southern part of Australia will become susceptible to even more drought. A side-effect of this is an increase in the frequency of bushfires, which can cause significant damage to flora, wildlife, and the livelihoods of Australians

The impact of extreme weather events

Australia has had its fair share of major weather events, and the resulting social and economic losses have been significant. The 2019/2020 bushfire season was one of the worst natural disasters in recent years, with insurance losses alone exceeding 700 million Australian dollars. Additionally, many wildlife and their habitats were destroyed, and the country’s agriculture industry was also affected. The full extent of damage from major weather events is difficult to estimate, though many Australians are realizing that anthropogenic activities do have an impact on the climate.

Public support for climate change action is growing

Most Australians believe that climate change is occurring in the country. Australia has pledged to the Paris climate agreement, which sets out to limit global temperature rise to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels. While this has catalyzed technological innovation and industry change within the country, some experts believe not enough is being done in Australia to reach its target. This has prompted additional government funding to pay for carbon abatement projects, implemented to try and reduce the country’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Future emissions challenges

However, emissions reduction in a country that relies heavily on coal mining has not been without controversy. The energy sector in Australia contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, but many Australians are directly or indirectly employed in this industry. The country is seeing a shift towards more renewable energy sources to combat and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Undoubtedly, finding a balance between economic security and environmental impact mitigation will be necessary.

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