Climate change link to Australian heatwave

Last updated 14:10 04/03/2013

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Australia's summer may have been the hottest on record but it's the long-term trends that matter, not figures for one season, the country's opposition environment spokesman has said.

After all, over the same period Russia, China and the United States shivered through their coldest weather on record, Greg Hunt said.

Hunt was responding to a new report from the Australian government's Climate Commission that found global warming was directly linked to the country's extreme weather events of summer 2012/13.

The commission noted it was the hottest summer in more than a century of records, capped by the nation's longest and most extreme heatwave. The average temperature in Australia on January 7 sizzled at a record 40.3 degrees Celsius and the commission warned a shift in the climate system would bring more extreme events in the future.

"We recognise that it's been a hot summer," Hunt told ABC Radio on Monday.

"The long-term trend however is the important thing." 

In its latest annual climate summary the Bureau of Meteorology concluded the overall temperature last year was just 0.11C warmer than average, he said.

Hunt accepted the science that showed global temperatures were increasing but said care was needed when looking at short-term events such as the record cold temperatures abroad.

"It would be wrong to interpret those as a disproof of any long-run global temperature change in the same way it would be wrong to use any short-term record in any one part of the world,"  he said.

"It's the long run that matters."

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said the federal opposition needed to abandon its policy to repeal the carbon tax because the commission report showed hotter weather was here to stay.

"It is incumbent on all politicians, especially those in the coalition, to stop talking of extreme weathers as one-offs," Milne said in a statement.

Hunt said the best global action on climate change would be an agreement between China and the United States to cut emissions.

Australia's carbon tax had delivered a lot of pain to electricity consumers but "bizarrely" had not cut greenhouse gas output, he said.

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- Reuters

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