Climate Change in Queensland – What the science is telling us.

The Queensland EPA has just released a major report outlining the escalating risks of a changing climate for this great state. Out of the Australian states, Queensland looks like it will particularly hard hit – perhaps with a 5oC increase in temperature by 2070. Maybe we should think twice about exporting so much coal without any real strategy for the associated emissions? The future is in our hands. Read on …

Climate change is ‘Worst for Queensland’. By Rosemary Desmond | June 25, 2008 (The Australian)

QUEENSLAND has more to lose from climate change than any other Australian state, with the twin threats of severe drought and intense cyclones, a new report shows.

The state government has responded by launching a $3 million campaign to get householders to shrink their carbon footprints.

Queensland Climate Change Minister Andrew McNamara today released the report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Climate Change showing the state’s average temperature could rise by five degrees celsius by 2070.

The report, entitled Climate Change in Queensland – What the science is telling us, said the annual temperature had risen faster than the national average since 1950.

Under the current high emissions scenario, Queensland’s temperature would rise by 2.8 degrees by 2050 and five degrees by 2070.

The report identified the Great Barrier Reef and wet tropics rainforest as especially vulnerable.

Most of the population, which lives on the coast, could face severe flooding from sea levels expected to rise by up two metres by the end of the century.

"Queensland has key challenges because of our widely distributed population,” Mr McNamara told reporters today.

"We have four million people living across a much broader area than Victoria, for example.

"So our transport challenge is significantly more difficult because we simply have to transport people and goods over greater distances.

"We have a highly distributed economy and it’s an energy intensive economy.

"We have a very strong mining sector, but of course, that entails the significant production of greenhouse gases.

"So Queensland, because of the structure of our economy and the distribution of our people, has more at risk because of climate change than any other state in Australia.”

Energy generation, which includes coal-fired power stations, makes up 40 per cent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2006 showed that Queensland accounted for 170 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions or 29.7 per cent of the national total, ahead of the next highest greenhouse gas emitter NSW, which produced 27.8 per cent of the national total.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Michael Roche said today the state’s mining and energy companies were working to reduce their emissions.

"If we want the lights to continue to come on, definitely there is a place for coal,” Mr Roche said.

"But the future for coal is a different sort of future – it’s a future with coal being burnt far more efficiently, where the CO2 is being captured, transported and being stored safely, permanently underground.”

Mr McNamara today initiated the program encouraging householders to reduce their carbon footprint.

Based on a model developed in the United States, the "low carbon diet” is a program that provides information and resources to help households cut their greenhouse gas emissions by two tonnes a month or up to 20 per cent within the first year.

Measures include running dishwashers less frequently, using cold water to wash clothes and buying energy-efficient appliances.

But environmental group WWF said the state government must do more to tackle climate change.

"Queensland has the highest emissions per capita due to its reliance on coal power and road transport,” WWF spokeswoman Kellie Caught said.

"The state needs to diversify its energy portfolio by shifting freight to rail and focusing on renewable energy rather than relying too heavily on the coal industry.”

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