More than 200 weather records were broken during the intense, “angry summer” just finished, putting stress on Australians and the ageing energy system.
A report from the Climate Council, released on Wednesday, says the summer was characterised by intense heatwaves, hot days and bushfires in central and eastern Australia but heavy rainfall and flooding in the country’s west.
Climate scientist Will Steffen said the effects of climate change could be seen in the 200 records broken in 90 days.
“We’re experiencing unprecedented extreme heat and setting new records at an alarming rate, with every part of Australia feeling the impact,” he said.
“Extreme weather will continue to intensify through this century if we continue to sit on our hands and fail to move rapidly to get fossil fuels out of our economy.”
Extreme weather events have dominated a wetter-than-average year in Australia, with the country also clocking its fourth-warmest year on record in 2016.
Fellow climate councillor and energy expert Andrew Stock said the “ageing, inefficient and polluting” energy system already struggled to cope with heatwaves and extreme weather and would come under even more pressure as these intensified.
The energy system is under scrutiny after blackouts in South Australia and load shedding in NSW during hot days.
“It’s time for Australia to power our economy with a 21st century energy system, one which deploys proven renewable technology and storage solutions instead of relying on high greenhouse emitting fossil fuels,” Mr Stock said.
“These fossil fuels are the very culprits feeding the extreme weather cycle. We have to stop backing the wrong horse.”
The federal government is facing increasing calls – including from big business and electricity generators – to give certainty to the energy sector and put in place some kind of carbon price, such as an emissions intensity scheme.
Records broken over the 2016-17 summer include:
Hottest summer on record for Sydney, NSW as a whole, Brisbane, and Canberra
Hottest Adelaide Christmas day in 70 years at 41.3 degrees
NSW town Moree had 54 consecutive days with temperatures reaching 35 degrees or higher
Canberra had 18 days with temperatures 35 degrees or higher (previously predictions said this wouldn’t happen until after 2030)
Highest summer rainfall for Perth at 192.8mm
Wettest December on record for parts of the Kimberley
Highest daily January rainfall in the east Kimberley
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