Australia's Worsening Droughts, Heatwaves and Bushfires Prompt Calls for Bigger Carbon Emission Cuts

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A South Australian policeman offers a drink of water to a koala at the side of the road
A South Australian policeman offers a drink of water to a koala at the side of the road in Adelaide January 16, 2014. Reuters

Worsening dry spells, fiercer heat waves and frequent bushfire seasons should be worrying for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Coalition government after CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology released the State of the Climate report.

The two-year study has prompted calls for curbing carbon emissions from human activities. Greenhouse emissions are already at record levels. Climate scientists predict that the world will be 5 degrees hotter by 2070.

The level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased rapidly in 2012 compared to its average rise in the past 10 years based on a new report. The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has broken records, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

However, the Abbott government has not accepted the the Climate Change Authority (CCA)'s recommendation for Australia to triple its carbon emissions reduction target. The climate agency said Australia should be aiming for at least 15 per cent by 2020. The target rate will increase to 19 per cent once the carry-over credits that has been previously set in the Kyoto Protocol are included.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt reacted to the CCA report and said the Abbott government will not revise its target of 5 per cent until 2015.

Climate change endangers Sydney Opera House

Meanwhile, if carbon emissions continue, climate scientists believe they will only speed up global warming and cause sea levels to rise. Visitors to Australia in 4014 may have to take a virtual tour of the Sydney Opera House since rising sea levels would have swallowed the famous heritage site. A climate study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, has warned of losing structures of cultural and global importance because of dramatic ocean level increase.

According to researchers, the sea level will increase as much as 1.8 metres due to the warming of the planet. Out of a list of more than 700 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, almost 140 are in danger of being submerged in water after 2,000 years.

Aside from the Sydney Opera House, New York's Statue of Liberty, Britain's Tower of London, Japan's Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Venice in Italy will be fully under water.

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