The Critical Decade: NSW Climate Change Report Released

The Climate Commission has released a report on New South Wales climate impacts and opportunities.

Climate commissioners Tim Flannery, Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes spoke to the media about their report.

The full report is shown below.

  • Listen to the media conference (14m)

This is the Climate Commission’s summary of its report, ‘The Critical Decade’.

New South Wales (NSW) is home to over a third of Australians, 31% of the national economy and is highly vulnerable to climate change. Scientists are concerned that climate change is increasing the risk of hot weather, heatwaves, and bushfires, and changing the patterns of drought and heavy rainfall. A changing climate is costly, putting pressure on human health, agriculture, infrastructure and the natural environment.

NSW is becoming hotter and drier. Record-breaking hot days have more than doubled across Australia since 1960 and heatwaves in the greater Sydney region, especially in the western suburbs, have increased in duration and intensity.

Over the last 40 years much of eastern and southern Australia has become drier. The continuing drying trend increases the risk of longer and harsher droughts. While there will continue to be wet years, the future trend of declining rainfall poses challenges for Sydney’s long-term water security.

This long-term increase in hot and dry weather has made NSW more susceptible to bushfires. Very high fire danger days have already become more frequent, and will occur even more often in the coming decades.

Coastal infrastructure in NSW is vulnerable to flooding from sea-level rise. A 1.1m rise by the end of the century could put between 40,000–60,000 houses, 1200 commercial buildings and 250km of highway in NSW at risk of inundation.

This is the critical decade for action. To minimise climate change risks we must begin to decarbonise our economy and move to cleaner energy sources this decade. The longer we wait the more difficult and costly it will be.

NSW is well-placed to capitalise on the global trend towards clean energy. Globally the clean energy sector attracted $263 billion worth of investment in 2011 and is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. In Australia $5.3 billion was invested in clean energy in 2011. NSW, with a legacy of innovation and achievement in renewable energy development, has significant opportunities.

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