By Maripaz Osante Polini – Student of the School of General Studies
In 2016, Australia had recorded the three warmest years of all time. 2013, 2014 and 2015 were the hottest years. This all began in 1910, where year after year, their weather began to get warmer by 1ºC. In 2019, Australia was ranked as one of the worst 57 countries in the world on climate change policy. The Australian government didn’t even attend the United Nations Climate Action Fund, which was part of the reason they got such a low score on the climate change policy ranking. Actually, “the Australian government has also failed to clarify how it will meet the country’s 2030 emission reduction target and has failed to develop a long-term mitigation strategy” (Martin, 2019, parr. 8).
Australia not only didn’t have a climate change policy, but also encouraged the expansion of fossil fuels and coal mines. In 2019, Australia had extreme weather events, including the bushfires. The agriculture minister of Australia, Bridget McKenzie, said it was a mistake to associate the bushfires with the coal-fired power generation. Even though Australia doesn’t even have a climate change policy, McKenzie stands firm by her opinion in which her country is actually taking strong action to address the problem.
Their coasts, cities and the built environment, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, water resources, natural ecosystems, and health and wellbeing were also affected by climate change. Regarding the ascending coast risks, we can talk about the rising sea levels, possible flooding, ocean acidification, warmer sea surface and much more. Within the cities and the built environment, the weather is getting hotter and drier, increasing the risk for bushfires. Heatwaves reduce livestock productivity and reproductive rates in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Water resources are at risk for the “reduction of groundwater recharge and supplies, seawater intrusion to coastal aquifers, reduction of freshwater availability on small islands, and increased demand from communities and industries” (Australian Government, n.d., parr. 26). Natural ecosystems find themselves with a limited capacity of species to adapt or migrate to more climatically suitable areas, due to changes in climate and increase in pressure (Australian Government, n.d.). Climate change has increased risks on human health such as injuries, diseases, death and the interruption of health services (Australian Government, n.d.).
Australia has seen climate change arising since 1910, and didn’t pay as much attention as they should have. They’ve known how temperatures have been increasing exponentially year after year, and still didn’t prepare or do anything to improve the situation. They not only didn’t and still do not have a climate change policy, but they also encouraged the expansion of fossil fuels and coal mines, since their government approved in April of 2019 “the opening of the highly controversial Adani coal mine” (Martin, 2019, parr. 9). We can argue that Australia could have avoided the bushfires from 2019 if they would’ve not only paid more attention to climate change, but also more action and care. If they would’ve had a policy and if they would’ve attended the UN’s meetings regarding climate change, things must’ve been different for them.
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• Australian Government. (n.d.). Climate change impacts in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science-data/climate-science/impacts
• Martin, S. (2019, December 11). Australia ranked worst of 57 countries on climate change policy. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/11/australia-ranked-worst-of-57-countries-on-climate-change-policy