Australia’s temperatures are increasing more than the global average, the nation’s weather bureau says.
Bureau of Meteorology head of climate monitoring Karl Braganza said Australia had warmed by about 1.4 degrees Celsius while the rest of the world had increased by 1.1C.
“Australia warms slightly more than the global average,” Dr Braganza told a Senate estimates committee in Canberra on Monday.
When temperatures across the rest of the world increase by 3.4C on average – which was estimated in a recent report – Australia is projected to be closer to 4C, he said.
BOM chief Andrew Johnson said Australia was expected to become drier and warmer, which would see the risk of severe fire weather continue.
It comes as BOM confirms the recent summer was Australia’s second hottest on record.
The national mean temperature for summer was 1.88C warmer than average, while the maximum was 2.11C higher and the minimum 1.64C more than average.
Fiona Armstrong from the Climate and Health Alliance says more extreme heatwaves are leading to more heat-related illnesses and deaths.
“From the deaths and injuries caused by the bushfires, to millions of Australians being exposed to extremely hazardous levels of air pollution, rising global temperatures and worsening climate change is having devastating impacts on our health right now,” she said.
An independent analysis of weather data shows Australian summers are getting longer and winters shorter.
The Australia Institute has studied two decades worth of BOM data for the nation’s cities, comparing it to a benchmark from the mid-20th century.
The think-tank is calling on the federal government to boost its emissions reduction plan to prevent more climate change related warming.
The federal government has committed to the Paris agreement, which aims for a 26 to 28 per cent reduction on 2005 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2030.
The agreement also includes a pact to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of the century.
Labor has committed to net zero emissions by 2050, but hasn’t revealed if its 2030 goal would be more ambitious than the Paris target stipulates.
Senior bureaucrats from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources told the Senate estimates committee Australia was one of the highest emitters per capita.
The department says its electric vehicle strategy is on track to be released in the middle of the year, but couldn’t say whether it would be tied to emissions reduction targets.
Climate change policy responsibilities have been split between that department and the newly created Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.
Setting up DAWE has so far cost more than $1 million, officials told senators.