Australia could avoid long heatwaves and boost the Great Barrier Reef's chances of survival by helping to limit global warming to 1.5℃ rather than 2℃, according to a report released by the Climate Institute last week. Beyond the limits – Australia in a 1.5-2°C world produced by the Climate Institute, suggests that limiting global warming to 1.5℃ rather than letting it reach 2℃ could make a significant difference to the severity of extreme weather events in Australia. Heatwaves in southern Australia would be an average of five days shorter, and the hottest days a degree cooler. In the north, hot spells would be 20-30 days shorter than the 60-day heatwaves potentially in store if warming hits 2℃.
Under 2℃ warming, the world's coral reefs would have a "very limited chance" of survival, whereas limiting warming to 1.5℃ would allow "some chance for a fraction of the world's coral reefs to survive", according to the report.
The Climate Institute has also released a National Agenda for Climate Action which outlines the things Australian policy makers need to do if we are to look after communities, workers and our competitiveness in this inevitable shift to a clean energy economy. It will require genuine, overdue, integration of climate, energy and other policies. It will also require much improved responses to the climate impacts that are hitting us right now – so that we can manage the growing cost burdens on individuals, farmers and communities, as well as our natural and built environment assets like the Great Barrier Reef and our coastal homes.