Climate change is already having devastating effects in Australia. This report collates scientific projections of how climate impacts will play out up to 2050 and 2100, on low, medium and high emissions pathways.
The science shows that Australia will experience devastating climate impacts if it follows a high-emissions pathway. Without urgent action, heatwave-related excess deaths will increase by 471% under a high emissions scenario by 2080 and the area burned by fires will increase by over 12,000 square kilometres per year by 2050. The combination of sea level rise, coastal erosion and fiercer weather will cause chaos for Australia’s economy, costing around AUS$611 billion by 2050.
The faster Australia adopts low-carbon policies, the less the climate impacts cascade and the more manageable they become. Limiting temperature rise to 2°C will see the cost of climate impacts in Australia drop from 7% of its GDP in 2100 under a high emissions scenario to 1.93%.
Image © Abram Powell / Greenpeace
Explore past, present and future scenarios for climate change in Australia. This section uses the most up to date climate science models to describe how climate change will affect temperature and precipitation trends in Australia. The research shows that on a high carbon pathway, temperatures in Australia could increase by as much as 1.8°C by 2050. On a low carbon pathway this drops to 0.9°C.
How have sea temperatures changed in the oceans surrounding Australia, and what do future climate trends mean for the vital ecosystems and livelihoods supported by Australia’s oceans? This section shows how surface sea temperatures in Australia could increase by 1.5°C by 2050 in a high carbon scenario, triggering a sharp rise in ocean acidification and reducing fish catch potential by as much as 11.4%.
A changing climate could have devastating effects on Australia’s coastal settlements, infrastructure and ecosystems. Rising sea levels, coastal erosion and changing storm patterns could see 0.10 million people exposed to devastating floods by 2050, if it follows a high carbon pathway. Following a low carbon pathway and investing in climate-resilient coastal infrastructure will help Australia avoid the worst coastal impacts.
Clean water is the foundation of all life. This section shows the increasing impacts from climate change threaten our access to water in Australia. Longer droughts, rising sea levels and more extreme weather will increase in the coming decades, choking off our most precious resource. In turn, that impacts agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure and tourism – causing massive economic costs. Only a low-carbon pathway can limit the damage.
Agriculture is a core element of Australia’s economy, contributing approximately 2.3% of the country’s annual GDP. This section shows the past, present and future impacts of climate change on Australia’s agriculture sector. It shows how climate change will impact crop productivity and put additional strain on Australia’s water resources, with droughts causing water demand to increase by up to 34.6% by 2050 – even in a low carbon scenario.
Forests are key to clean healthy air – supporting thriving ecosystems and economies. This section shows the past, present and future impacts of climate change on forests in Australia. If carbon levels remain high, huge losses in forest land will grow, damaging Australia’s agriculture, forestry and tourism industries. With urgent action, a low-carbon pathway will protect our forests from the worst impacts.
Cities in Australia face many threats from climate change. Unless we take urgent action, increasing extreme weather will batter urban communities across the country – damaging crucial infrastructure and causing massive economic losses. Increasing heatwaves and worsening air quality will harm urban residents’ health and even cost many their lives.
The health of our planet is essential to the health of people in Australia. Without urgent action, climate change will drive longer heatwaves, rising sea levels and deadly storms, harming Australia’s economy. Higher poverty means worse health impacts. But on a low-carbon pathway, Australia can improve health outcomes and save lives.
Rising temperatures and more severe heatwaves will affect Australia’s energy system and change the profile of its energy demand.
Heatwaves, droughts, fires, floods and brutal storms. Australia faces multiple threats from climate change. Across sectors – agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure, tourism and more – the costs to the economy could be massive. Without urgent action, Australia stands to lose 3.03% of its GDP by 2050. That rises to 6.93% by 2100. By investing in a low-carbon economy now, Australia can limit those losses to 1.89% by 2050.
This section explores Australia’s historic and current emissions as compared with global emissions, and the targets and commitments it has put in place. Australia is the 14th biggest emitter among the G20 countries. Urgent political action is necessary in Australia to secure a low carbon future.