AUSTRALIA’S latest emissions target promises a far hotter and drier Border climate within decades, An Albury climate expert says,
Charles Sturt University Thurgoona lecturer Andrew Hall said Australia could not keep temperature rises in check under the federal government’s plan.
It was revealed this week the government has proposed a 26 to 28 per cent cut to carbon emissions by 2030, based on 2005 levels.
Dr Hall, a senior lecturer in topics including climatology, said that was at the “lower end of the spectrum” for comparable countries.
“For Australia the consequences here of a two degrees and greater warming are huge,” he said.
“The number I often use is for every 1 degree Celsius that we increase the temperature, we effectively have a climate similar to what it’s like 160 kilometres north.
“On two degrees Albury-Wodonga is going up towards Forbes, where it’s a lot hotter, a lot drier.
“The potential impact for Australia is much greater.”
Dr Hall said that could have drastic impact on the region’s agriculture, including the viability of irrigation drawn from Lake Hume.
He said climate scientists who did temperature modelling recommended a 40 to 60 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2050 to keep global warming “to a reasonable amount of less than a few degrees. Our commitment is well below that,” he said.
“It may reduce the rate of warming, but we’re not going to stem it in any meaningful way to prevent a dangerous level of warming.
“If everybody goes ‘we’ll do 26 per cent’ like Australia have done then that’s not going to be enough to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to a level to manage global warming.”
Dr Hall said it was important to keep below a two degree increase, as above that would create “irreversible, runaway problems with the climate”.
“The US and the European Union have much higher targets, which is what the UN Climate Change Panel is putting out there,” he said.
“We’re not lifting our weight effectively if we keep it at this level. We’re effectively leaving that to all the other countries.”
Dr Hall said Britain in contrast had fairly high rates of implementation to try to stop CO2 going into the atmosphere.
“But if you live in England it’s cold and it won’t make that much more difference, though there are of course drought implications.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott defended the government’s target in Parliament earlier this week by saying it was the same as the US, which promised to meet its cuts five years earlier.
He said a 40 per cent reduction in emissions would cut 2 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product.