The 20 federal electorates most at risk from climate change

Summary of climate modeling data analysis by the Australian National University for the Australian Conservation Foundation
Global environmental change Climate change Election districts Australia

When politicians are occasionally pressed about the causes of worsening extreme weather events in our country, they often revert to clichés about Australia having always been a land of drought and flooding rain. Australia’s climate has never been a picnic, but decades of observed verified data makes it clear climate change damage is happening in our communities – and it’s getting worse.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) believes it is critical people have clear information about the projected impacts of worsening climate change for their communities as they decide with their votes who is best to represent their local region. ACF has commissioned design and data experts from the Australian National University (ANU) to break down existing climate modeling projections across Australia’s 151 lower house federal electorates. The same ANU team previously developed the ‘climate coasters’ series, highlighting already rising temperatures across Australia.

The ANU design team used climate model data from the LongPaddock project, operated by the Science Division of the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES). The data presented here is drawn from the high global emissions pathway, which represents projections for a world where global climate pollution grows strongly. This is the worst-case scenario modeled by scientists and can be avoided with sharp cuts to climate pollution. The latest observations suggest that after a two-year pause, global emissions from burning fossil fuels and industrial production rose again in 2018, taking them to their highest levels on record. The results of the ANU project compares the long-term 1960-1990 historical average to the projections for 2050 under this emissions pathway. It compares only temperature and rainfall data, not the full range of climate change impacts, including sea-level rise.

While all regions of Australia have reasons for concern about the damage runaway climate change would cause, as part of this project ANU also assessed which federal electorates would be most affected. These electorates are those with the largest relative average maximum temperature change from the historical baseline of 1960-1990 to the 2050 projections.

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