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Hottest year on record for Australia

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  • Mike Neuman
    Hottest year on record for Australia January 4, 2006 - 9:44AM The Howard government is facing a king tide of pressure to commit to greenhouse gas cuts after
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 2006
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      Hottest year on record for Australia
      January 4, 2006 - 9:44AM

      The Howard government is facing a king tide of pressure to commit to
      greenhouse gas cuts after figures showed the nation has sweltered
      through its hottest year on record.

      The government, which refuses to sign the Kyoto Protocol on reducing
      emissions, has been accused of neglect and an over-reliance on new
      clean energy technologies to solve the global warming crisis.

      The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's annual climate summary,
      released on Wednesday, shows 2005 was more than one degree warmer
      than the average temperature between 1961 and 1990, the standard
      timeframe used to track temperature change around the world.

      A one degree increase means many southern towns are now experiencing
      temperatures equivalent to those seen in communities located 100km
      further north.

      By the government's own admission, most of Australia's highland
      animal species will disappear if the average temperature rises by
      between one and five degrees.

      Wednesday's figures showed the average temperature last year was
      22.89 degrees - the highest average in Australia since comprehensive
      record keeping began in 1910.

      Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell on Wednesday acknowledged
      climate change was the biggest modern-day environmental challenge.

      "I regard climate change as the number one environmental challenge,"
      he said.

      But he defended the government's refusal - along with the United
      States - not to sign Kyoto saying it was not the solution and
      technology was.

      "If we don't bring forward the technologies that allow us to produce
      energy, but do so with much, much lower greenhouse gas emissions,
      then we won't solve the problem," he said.

      The federal government has signed Australia up to a regional
      partnership designed to address global warming with improved

      The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which
      includes the US, Japan, China, India and South Korea, is due to meet
      for the first time in Sydney later this month.

      The new figures saw green groups and opposition parties lining up on
      Wednesday to attack the government for what they said was its failure
      to take direct action on climate change.

      "The data released today by the Bureau of Meteorology adds to a huge
      body of scientific research that shows we no longer live in a natural
      climate," Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Erwin Jackson

      "While Australia gets hotter, our greenhouse pollution is spiralling
      out of control."

      Labor's environment spokesman Anthony Albanese said Australia's
      greenhouse gas emissions had risen by 23.3 per cent between 1990 and

      "The heat is on the Howard government to start taking direct action
      to avoid dangerous climate change," Mr Albanese said.

      "We need a little less conversation and a lot more action."

      Greens senator Christine Milne said the government should commit to
      real targets for reducing emissions at the Sydney meeting next week.

      "Technology is critical to addressing climate change ... but my
      criticism is directed at the Australian government because it is
      putting all its eggs in the technology basket," she said.

      "The Howard government is putting most of its money for technology
      into corporate welfare for the coal industry."

      Conservation group WWF echoed her call, saying developed countries
      taking part in the Sydney meeting must agree on binding and absolute
      greenhouse gas emission reductions.

      WWF-Australia chief executive Greg Bourne also said developing
      countries, such as India and China, must pledge to grow their
      economies in a way that minimises their increases in emissions
      through the use of clean energy technologies.

      "Australia's natural icons, the water supplies of our cities and our
      agricultural production and biodiversity are at risk - continuing to
      add to that risk can not work alongside trying to adapt to its
      effects," he said.

      WWF released a report last month revealing that fish stocks are
      increasingly threatened by the effects of climate change.

      A separate report by the group has found at least 90 Australian
      species are at risk from climate change, including koalas, wombats,
      birds, reptiles, frogs and fish.

      Greenpeace energy campaigner Catherine Fitzpatrick said 2005 gave
      Australia a taste of what life would be like if we failed to tackle
      climate change.

      "The extreme heat and bushfires of New Year's Day 2006 showed that it
      isn't going to be fun," she said.

      "If action isn't taken soon to avoid catastrophic climate change,
      Australians will have John Howard to blame for failing to act when he
      had the chance."
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