Since the release of Climate Action 21 there have been a number of developments relating to climate change at a national and international level. Tasmania has also experienced a number of climate events that have impacted our communities, agricultural industries and marine environment.
A changing climate
In the summer of 2017-2018 Tasmania experienced its hottest November to February period on record, including a statewide heatwave over the 2018 Australia Day weekend. During this period a marine heatwave occurred in the Tasman Sea, with record high sea surface temperatures resulting in impacts on abalone stocks and kelp forests. On the East Coast of Tasmania there was a drop in rainfall in 2017 compared to 2016 from June to November. Unseasonal snowfall in December in the Midlands and Central Plateau led to thousands of livestock deaths.
In mid-February 2018 fruit fly was detected in Tasmania. This led to a major whole-of-government biosecurity response to protect the State’s fruit export market. Fruit flies have not historically survived the Tasmanian winter, but they may survive as the climate changes in the future.
In May 2018, Southern Tasmania experienced an extreme weather event, with record-breaking rainfall and flash flooding. More than 100mm of rain fell within 24 hours, with snow in elevated areas, strong winds, thunder and lightning. In Hobart, low-lying parts of the city centre, the University of Tasmania and some suburbs were flooded. Over 13,000 homes were left without power and emergency services received hundreds of calls for assistance.
Based on current global greenhouse gas emissions, Tasmania is projected to experience a rise in average annual temperature, significant changes to rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events.
Tasmania’s greenhouse gas emissions
Each year, the Australian Government releases its annual State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The latest figures, for the 2016 reporting period, were released in February 2018. The figures show that Tasmania is the first jurisdiction in Australia to achieve zero net emissions, with total emissions for 2016 of -0.01 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is a 100 per cent decrease from the 1990 baseline level.
International Climate Change Policy
Australia is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement, ratified by Australia on 9 November 2016, sets a goal to hold the average global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius.
In November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, 197 countries including Australia, came together to build on the momentum of the Paris Agreement. The meeting of the Council of Parties (COP) 23 worked to specify the details for implementing the Paris agreement.
In June 2017 the international Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures published recommendations for companies to identify, disclose and manage climate change risks. Their widespread adoption will ensure that the effects of climate change become routinely considered in business and investment decisions.
In November 2017, top global credit ratings agency Moody’s warned of the need to start preparing for climate change or risk losing access to credit. Moody’s has said they will be asking cities and states what they are doing to reduce exposure to climate change. Risk reduction actions will be taken into account in credit ratings used to assess the risk of default.
In December 2017 the Australian Government released recommendations from its Review of Climate Change Policies. The Review found that Australia is on track to meet both its 2020 and 2030 emissions reduction targets, established under the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, without compromising economic growth or jobs.
The Final Report of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market (the Finkel Review) was released in June 2017.
With the support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Hydro Tasmania commenced the Battery of the Nation initiative to enhance Tasmania’s renewable energy supply. This will support a less emissions intensive national electricity market and set up a blueprint for how Tasmania’s renewable energy resources are developed over coming decades.