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Capital cities to swelter through twice as many days above 35°C unless stronger climate action is taken

Climate Council Media Release

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL CITIES are set to swelter through twice as many days above 35°C by the end of the century, a detailed analysis from the Climate Council has found.

But there’s hope: reducing climate pollution globally now could slash the number of scorching days by an average of 20 percent across Australian communities.

Thousands of data points from CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology’s Climate Change in Australia project were analysed by the geospatial team Spatial Vision, who worked alongside the Climate Council to develop a new interactive heat map tool.

The map projects the average number of hot and very hot days, as well as very hot nights, for each Australian suburb by 2050 and 2090 under three scenarios:

  1. No action, where global emissions rise throughout the 21st century
  2. Existing action, what we’d see if all countries meet their current commitments for emission reductions
  3. Necessary action, a much stronger pathway that requires almost all countries, including Australia, to substantially strengthen their existing climate commitments and actions.

Any Australian can input their suburb or postcode to the heat map, to see how stronger action on climate pollution can affect the heat in their area.

 Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council CEO said: “Climate pollution is rapidly turning up the heat in Australia. Whether we live in cities or regional towns, all Australians are sweltering through even hotter days and killer heatwaves.

“Australia must keep building out renewable energy to completely phase out pollution from coal, oil and gas and protect our families from unlivable temperatures. If we don’t take further steps now, some neighbourhoods and communities will become so hot people will struggle to live there. It’s not something that’s far off, it’s here now and it will define the coming decades.

“This map makes it clear that Australia’s pathway to cut climate pollution this decade will play a critical role in determining the future health and prosperity of entire communities across our country.” 

Head of Research at the Climate Council Dr Simon Bradshaw said: “This tool empowers Australians to see the real impacts of climate pollution in their own neighbourhoods.

“Choices being made this decade will dramatically affect the kind of community our children and grandchildren inherit. Cutting climate pollution further will limit the number of extremely hot days and the number of very warm nights we’re forced to endure, and ensure a better future for all Australians.”

Doctors for the Environment Australia executive director Dr Kate Wylie said: “Extreme heat is lethal. Dangerously hot temperatures put our health and wellbeing at serious risk, and threaten our families, community and animals.

“As well as the risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in extreme conditions, we know that heat exposure increases the risks of many serious illnesses, such as heart and respiratory diseases, mental health presentations and premature births.

“Older adults, infants and young children, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions and those living in vulnerable communities have a heightened risk of illness during heatwaves. But by embracing renewable energy and cutting climate pollution, we can shield our communities from the worst consequences of extreme heat and safeguard our future health.”

Key findings and local impact

Western Sydney / New South Wales

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Western Sydney will swelter through twice as many days above 35°C by 2050 and three weeks above 35°C every summer.
  • The urban heat island effect notably worsens living temperatures in Western Sydney, with materials like asphalt and concrete amplifying heat. This can elevate temperatures by as much as 10 degrees during extreme heat, exacerbating climate change and urban development challenges.

Darwin / Northern Territory

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Darwin could experience four times as many days over 35°C each year by mid-century, with residents facing almost three months of extra days above 35°C by 2050.
  • If no action was taken to reduce climate pollution, by 2090, Darwin could experience a whopping 283 days over 35°C each year – an increase of 243 days – and a similar number of nights above 25°C. In other words, by the time a child born today is entering retirement, the city could be facing temperatures over 35°C for more than nine months of the year.
  • Housing in remote communities in the Northern Territory is often old and badly constructed, with little insulation. Climate change is turning these houses into ‘dangerous hot boxes’ that threaten the health of residents, especially older people and those with existing health conditions.

Perth / Western Australia

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Perth could swelter through twice as many days above 35°C by 2050.
  • This summer, people in Perth have had a taste of the hotter future to come, with unprecedented late-summer heatwaves. In February, Perth set a new record for the number of days over 40°C in a single month, with 7 consecutive days of sweltering heat.

Melbourne / Victoria

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Melbourne residents face double the number of days above 35°C by 2050.
  • Extreme heat poses a growing threat to sporting competitions such as the Australian Open, challenging player safety. Losing tournaments like the Australian Open will negatively impact Victoria’s economy and Australia’s international reputation as a major event destination.

Canberra / ACT

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Canberra residents face twice as many days above 35°C by 2050.

Brisbane / Queensland

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Brisbane faces three times as many days above 35°C by 2050 and four times as many by 2090.
  • Extreme heat is critically endangering flying fox populations, causing mass fatalities and pushing the species towards extinction.

Adelaide / South Australia

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Adelaide faces an extra week of days above 35°C by mid-century.
  • South Australia’s wine regions, including the Barossa Valley, face threats from climate change with rising temperatures hastening grape ripening, impacting quality. Adapting through new grape varieties or relocating vineyards remains costly and complex.

Hobart / Tasmania

  • Based upon existing action to reduce climate pollution, by mid-century the extreme temperatures Hobart experienced over the 2019-20 summer could become the norm.
  • Rising sea surface temperatures off Tasmania’s coast, which are rising nearly four times faster than the global average, is endangering Tasmania’s marine life and fisheries. The longest marine heatwave in 2016 devastated commercial species.

 

SEE THE CLIMATE COUNCIL’S CLIMATE HEAT MAP HERE

 

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10 comments

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  1. Pingback: Capital cities to swelter through twice as many days above 35°C unless stronger climate action is taken - independent news and commentary Australia

  2. Andrew Smith

    Councils could do much more in ensuring green coverage for the cooling effect vs. focus on maintaing roads and car parks for IC motor vehicles.

  3. wam

    People of my age are, rightly or wrongly, not going to be concerned about this post.
    We can remember 70 years ago having days over a 100 and sleeping on the lawn because the house was too hot.

  4. Clakka

    I was born and grew up surrounded by hilly thick bushland in the Yarra valley on the urban fringe, and experienced numerous bushfires, and like all young fellahs was a member of the local cfa from mid-teens.

    Now I live in Western Vic, and have just been through the huge intense bushfires of the last week (not over yet). The weather patterns, including sporadic temps over 35ºC coupled with very high winds, all changing and shifting by the hour are different to the 1960s / 70s.

    Thank goodness all the state authorities (as well as national programs) have learned from major fires over the last 10-20 years. With substantial additional fire-fighting resources, and massive co-ordination processes, they are now able to hit the fires hard – at huge cost to the public purse. But the situations remain incredibly fluid and highly dangerous.

    These changed circumstances (like those of flood and cyclones) massively increase risk, and accordingly massive increase in insurance cost, to the point where it is approaching unaffordable, and / or gives rise to goods and services price increases. The insurers and re-insurers are aware, and it is not just Oz, but a global phenomenon that puts pressure on the economics of the entire insurance industry upon which we have relied, and in turn, public and industrial economics. Not to forget increasing affects on ecology, recovery, and global supply chains.

  5. Canguro

    I could say I’m surprised that these discussions are still taking place, like little willy-willies swirling around, the talks go here, the talks go there, we should do this, we should do that, we need to take action, if we don’t this will happen, that will happen. It’s unsurpsrising but it’s also an evidentiary aspect; like watching a car crash, you know it’s awful and you know it’s already happened and the damage is done but after the gawking you move on. I think many people’s response to global warming is similar.

    Even though GW is ramping up on steroids via pouring heat-trapping gases – CO2 & methane – into the atmosphere and those gases then absorbing the reflected solar radiation which then remains inside the atmospheric cap of the planet and is then redistributed into oceans and terrestrial environments, with the net effect that everything gets hotter, sweet FA is being done about it at scale. The global fossil fuel giants are essentially doing diddly-squat to rein in their extractive industries. Global market share of EVs is around 14%, a significant uptake but still only incremental when the global number of vehicles is close to 1.5 billion.

    All in all, not a positive scenario. UN Secretary-General Guterres has banged the side of the saucepan again and again, pleading with all parties to take action; after each IPCC report his sense of urgency increases in stridency… and what happens… we get a Taylor Swift concert and the issues die away, or if not Tay Tay then some other version of bread and circuses.

    Capital cities to swelter through twice as many days above 35°C unless stronger climate action is taken says the header to this post. Of course they will… it’s just physics, after all. Plug the frigging jug into the power point and switch it on, and duh, guess what, the water boils. Ain’t nothing surprising about that. The key word in the header is unless, and guess what again, ain’t nothing happening there either. Or if there is, it’s too little, too late.

    The checklist of phenomena that should be scaring the crap out of the planet’s folks:

    Polar ice-caps melting, check.
    All glaciers globally on the way out, check.
    Rivers, lakes, streams, drying up, check.
    Desertification on the march, check.
    Fires burning in regions previously too wet, too cold to burn… like rainforests and northern latitude tundra regions, check.
    Massive species loss of critical fauna, such as insect populations, as well as macro- and other micro fauna, check.
    Oceanic warming and major current redistributions, along with unsustainable acidification, check.
    Degrees of intensity & frequency of fire events, globally, check.
    Degrees of intensity & frequency of flood events, globally, check.
    Degrees of intensity & frequency of cyclones, typhoons, hurricanes, call them what you will, check.

    As Roy Scranton wrote (in 2015) in his pungent appraisal of what’s fast becoming situation normal, Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, we’re fucked, the only questions are how soon and how badly.

    Snore… zzzzzz, snooze…. snore….zzzzz… Jessuz… people are still having babies! How weird is that? Why would you want to bring a kid into this scenario… it’s unconscious cruelty… oh isn’t he cute, look, he’s got daddy’s eyes, and little dimply cheeks, just like mummy, oh, what a dear little love bug…

    Hey, hang up a moment… don’t you know you’ve condemned little cutey to a life that’s gonna be unimaginably more difficult than the one you’re experiencing?

    Nah, fuck off, how dare you try to scare me with your horror stories.

    Ain’t no horror story, babe, it’s just physics.

    Snore… zzzzzz, snooze…. snore….zzzzz…

    Anyway, here’s George Carlin, just to lighten the mood for a minute…

  6. Doug

    I agree with the item about having babies. What is the world going to be like in 20 years time. Why should I care, I am 82 going on 100. Not my problem. I won’t live long enough to find out.

  7. Andyfiftysix

    Canguro, you are perfectly right. However, I still think things are salvagable.
    It’s how much pain we endure before the whole species takes firm action.
    Coved is the perfect example of what happens when the whole world craps it’s pants. It took less than a year to develope a vaccine and every country responded.

    People of my age do remember the 50s and 60s. Only a fool would think the weather patterns haven’t changed. Still, it doesn’t surprise me people like WAM seem to think nothing has changed. the pain hasn’t really started yet.

  8. Clakka

    Yep. Babies, babiies, babies, the old agrarian edict. The more you have, the more by which to plough, seed and reap, the more land, the more profit. And lightening the darkness by other than a small fire. A must for more jiggery-pokery.

    Oh, by the goodness of gods came the good oil should we kill all the whales.

    And later, again by the goodness of gods came the industrial revolution …. from the ground came phosphorous and black crude …

    … and then the machines and toxins … all the better by which to till, to kill and to make war.

    And in the succeeding 200 years, the population has hurtled from 1 billion towards 10 billion,
    with the goodness of gods, agrarian notions, and blind ambition.

    A path of killing, maiming, toxifying and destruction.

    Now with inaudible and invisible gods in question, the phosphorous is gone, the black crude is on its last legs, the deserts are engulfing, fresh water hurtling to the seas, heat rising, fertility crashing, ailments and madness genetically entrenched, and mass extinction of plants and animals, what has been learned?

    As supreme masters of jiggery-pokery and the profit imperative, apparently nothing, but the press of ambition in the face of the ineffable increasingly agonizing rush to premature death and some weird place where the darkness is somehow enlightened.

    Idiots of faith and belief adorned with bling and exhortations of ambition and profit will press on, but regardless, nature and physics will prevail.

    If only for the ditching of cosmetics and grunts, the opening eyes, ears and minds, there might be learning of all that nature and physics has available.

  9. Frank Sterle Jr.

    I was left feeling I could never again complain about the weather being too cold after having suffered the unprecedented heatwave here in late June 2021, described by meteorologists as a ‘stalling dome’ of high heat, that resulted in 619 confirmed heat-related deaths. But then I did complain when most of the province, including southwestern B.C., suffered an unprecedently cold bunch of days in January, which was described by meteorologists as a ‘stalling dome’ of freezing cold. …

    I doubt it was just coincidental; rather, such extremes are basically due to climate change via human-caused global warming via morbidly massive amounts of fossil fuel consumption ever since the Industrial Revolution.

    Yet, due to the Only If It’s In My Own Back Yard mindset, the prevailing collective attitude, however implicit or subconscious, basically follows: ‘Why should I care — my family is immediately alright?’ or ‘What’s in it for me, the taxpayer?’

    While some people will justify it as a normal thus moral human evolutionary function, the self-serving OIIIMOBY can debilitate social progress, even when such progress is so desperately needed — notably, trying to moderate manmade global warming thus extreme weather events.

    Although societal awareness of and concern over man-caused global warming is gradually increasing, collective human existence is still basically analogous to a cafeteria lineup consisting of diversely societally represented people, all adamantly arguing over which identifiable person should be at the front and, conversely, at the back of the line.

    Many of them further fight over to whom amongst them should go the last piece of quality pie and how much they should have to pay for it — all the while the interstellar spaceship on which they’re all permanently confined, owned and operated by (besides the wealthiest passengers) the fossil fuel industry, is on fire and toxifying at locations not normally investigated. …

    Meanwhile, if the universal availability of green-energy alternatives will come at the profit-margin expense of traditional ‘energy’ production companies, one can expect formidable obstacles, including the political and regulatory sort. If it conflicts with big-profit interests, even very progressive motions are greatly resisted, often enough successfully.

    As a species, we can be so heavily preoccupied with our own individual little worlds, however overwhelming to us, that we will miss the biggest of crucial pictures. And it seems this distinct form of societal penny-wisdom but pound-foolishness is a very unfortunate human characteristic that’s likely with us to stay.

  10. Canguro

    Here’s George Monbiot, again, just to keep the issue alive…

    We need to talk about water – and the fact that the world is running out of it.

    Amongst the detail; the following…

    “To keep pace with the global demand for food, crop production needs to grow by at least 50% by 2050. A paper published in 2017 estimated that to match crop production to expected demand, water use for irrigation would have to increase by 146% by the middle of this century. One minor problem. Water is already maxed out. Already, agriculture accounts for 90% of the world’s freshwater use. We have pumped so much out of the ground that we’ve changed the Earth’s spin. The water required to meet growing food demand simply does not exist.”

    Here in Oz, we’re currently allocating water to something in the order of 53,000 hectares to almond production, up from 3,456 ha in 2000. Water requirements? Eight litres for a single 1.2-gram almond, or 12.5 million litres of water per hectare. Madness, pure & simple. Will the governments, collectively, mitigate against this profligacy, given this is, after all, the driest continent on the planet?

    Nup, won’t happen… historically, agriculture & horticulture get a free pass to do pretty much whatever it is they wish to do. So, a relatively small band of producers will continue to monopolise hundreds of millions of litres of precious water to grow almonds which will feed into a niche market for millennials who think ‘almond milk’ is somehow a better alternative for their coffee frappés than cow’s milk.

    As I’ve noted here many times, and in this I include myself, we’re, as a species, both incredibly smart and incredibly stupid. As we roll onwards towards climatic Armageddon, agriculture & horticulture globally will continue to massively aid & abet the worsening of conditions for the very people they’re supposed to be serving.

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