Imagine a city where 265 days a year, the temperature rises above 35C.
The residents of Darwin in 2090 will not have to imagine it, because for them, it may well be their reality.
As Australians endure the summer of the seemingly never-ending heatwave, a new report from the Climate Council essentially has one message. Get used to it.
If the country’s greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, it’s going to get much worse. The independent research body predicts a rapid rise in extreme heat in Australia in the next 73 years, with heatwaves in all Australian capital cities predicted to start earlier and last longer as the effects of greenhouse gas emissions bite in the next decade.
According to the Climate Council’s Cranking up the Intensity: Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events report, by 2030, the number of extremely hot days — classified as maximum temperatures of more than 35C — are tipped to climb in all capital cities.
But it is the Australia inhabited by this generation’s grandchildren, 2090, where the heat will really be on, if greenhouse gas emissions worldwide fail to meet current reduction targets. By that year the report predicts Darwin will have a staggering 265 days each year above 35C. The current average is 11.
The predictions are also frightening in other Australian cities.
Brisbane is tipped to swelter through nearly two months of temperatures above 35C each year, well up on its current 12. In Sydney, the number is predicted to rise to 11 from the current three, while in Canberra, it is forecast to rise from seven to 29. In Melbourne, the number will go from 11 to 24, while Adelaide is predicted to rise from 20 to 47. Over in the west, Perth’s extremely hot days are tipped to go from the current 28 to 63.
The projections are based on the current levels of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. Should the Paris climate agreement target of limiting global temperature rise to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels be met by drastically cutting worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the report says the extreme weather events can be halted before then.
But it is a different story for the next couple of decades.