Australia at risk of severe consequences of climate change

SYDNEY, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Australia is at risk of severe consequences as a result of climate change, a new book warns.

"Four Degrees of Global Warming: Australia in a Hot World," by a group of scientists and economists, looks at the economic implications of global warming of 4 degrees Celsius – or 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit -- by or before 2100.


The book's editor, Peter Christoff, associate professor of environmental policy at the University of Melbourne, says that even if the world's major economies were to enact current carbon emissions reduction pledges aimed at limiting warming to below 2C, the world is still on track to experience 4C of warming by 2100, The Guardian reports.

"Australia is exceptionally vulnerable ecologically to climate change," Christoff told the newspaper. Four degrees of warming, he said, would mean "a comprehensive transformation for life in Australia, from its wealth to its access to water to how people spend their time in summer."

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The book warns that by 2100, annual rainfall in the southern part of Australia is likely to fall by 50 percent, sea level is expected to rise by more than 3.5 feet and snow cover will fall to zero in most alpine regions.


"We'll see critical parts of the economy, such as the mining sector and tourism, falter, which is likely to lead to a society which is poorer and with a greater differential of wealth," Christoff said.

Australia accounts for about 1.5 percent of global CO2 emissions, but ranks at the top of developed nations on a per-capita basis because of its heavy reliance on coal for the production of electricity.

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While Australia aims to reduce its emissions by between 5 percent and 25 percent of 2000 levels by 2020, the authors say the government must increase that reduction target to 40 percent by 2020.

Christoff calls Australia's 5 percent target "socially and environmentally irresponsible."

Australia's Coalition government, which took office in September, has vowed to scrap the carbon tax, which went into effect in July 2012, and replace it with what it calls a Direct Action policy which would offer financial incentives to businesses to reduce emissions.

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It has also scrapped most of the climate change policy from the previous Labor administration.

"It seems the current government is not interested in carbon pricing, instead preferring a voluntary and economically expensive option," Christoff told The Guardian. "Australia is going from a country that was showing some progress on climate change to one that's in fast reverse."


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