Heatwaves and blackouts: Australia’s climate crisis is now

Feb 26, 2024
A high voltage post on yellow Sunset background

As Western Australia endures another extreme heatwave, with temperatures soaring up to 47 degrees Celsius in the Pilbara, the reality of the impacts of climate change is becoming impossible for Australia to ignore. Escalating and unprecedented heat is harming our communities, ecosystems, and economy. Last week Victoria was battered by fires and storms that destroyed homes and infrastructure, leaving half a million people without power. These are stark reminders of the climate crisis’s immediacy and the urgent need for action.

The evidence is clear: despite all the rhetoric about emissions reductions, they’re still growing and the world is witnessing rapid acceleration of global warming. We’re now on a perilous path. Temperature anomalies in 2024 are setting new records almost daily. Globally, we’ve already surpassed the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold. Average global temperature anomalies this February are already off the charts, exceeding 2 degrees Celsius. These aren’t mere statistics; they represent tipping points with nonlinear, catastrophic impacts for our economy, environment, society and security.

The notion of ‘Net Zero by 2050’ once offered a semblance of assurance: a nice round number and far enough away to justify continued inaction by politicians and big businesses with short-term interests at stake. But feel-good rhetoric is not going to save us, and as the world faces the relentless progression of climate change, this target is clearly no longer sufficient. It’s way too little way too late.

The crises unfolding in Australia underscore the need for immediate, bold actions now rather than distant, incremental goals. We must move beyond delay and take decisive steps to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Of course it will cost us. But the costs of continued delay and inaction will be even higher. Indeed, they will be unbearable.

It’s time to be honest with ourselves. We need a radical overhaul. We can’t keep digging up, burning and exporting coal and gas. We must transition urgently to renewables. The time for action is now. We must all mobilise for immediate, transformative change. Through urgent and collective efforts are our best bet at averting the most devastating effects of the climate crisis. As governments, corporations and citizens, we all must act.

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