Heatwave brings climate fears

Seventy per cent of Queensland's coal export is from metallurgical coal, used for steelmaking.

By Matthew Pearce

Climate action groups have issued a warning about the impacts of climate change after high temperatures struck Central Queensland and other regional areas this month.

Central Queensland’s temperatures skyrocketed into the high 30s last week, with the mercury hitting a high of 38.3 degrees in Rockhampton on Tuesday, 4 January.

Rain brought some relief from the heat on the weekend, with temperatures of 21-31 expected on Wednesday, 12 January, 21-32 on Thursday and 22-32 on Friday.

But Capricorn Conservation Council committee member Ian Herbert said you couldn’t attribute any one particular heatwave to climate change.

“Climate change is very relevant and we believe it is here, but it’s more a matter of looking at the long term trends, and those show that temperatures in Rockhampton, particularly the minimum temperatures overnight have been getting warmer and warmer over the past 20 to 40 years.

“Singling out any one particular day or heatwave doesn’t prove anything,” he said, recalling a 45.3 degree day in Rockhampton in November 1990, more than six degrees higher than last week’s peak.

Mr Herbert said the Capricorn Conservation Council had been campaigning for action to be taken against climate change for many years, something he acknowledged came with hurdles.

“It can be difficult in Central Queensland as a lot of our income is earned by exporting coal,” he said.

“Also as environmentalists we recognise that 70 per cent of Queensland’s coal export is from metallurgical coal which is going into steelmaking and that’s something that’s going to take a long time to reduce.”

He said individuals could do their part by using more solar power and green energy, using less fuel and supporting policies to reduce CO2 and fossil fuels.

“In terms of major change the best thing you can do is come out and show your voice in terms of campaigning for political parties that are taking climate change seriously.

“There’s a lot of good initiatives on the way, including a lot of possibilities starting in the hydrogen industry.

“It’s a pretty dismal outlook for the whole planet if you do nothing.”

Third generation Longreach grazier Angus Emmott, from Farmers for Climate Action, said some Western Queensland areas were in their 10th year of drought.

“This is exacerbated by increasingly high temperatures, such as the heatwave we are experiencing,” he said.

“Climate change brings hotter than normal temperatures and drier than normal weather. We need effective national leadership on climate change now to mitigate its impacts on farming and the ecosystems we all depend on.”

Vets for Climate Action chair Dr Jeannet Kessels said heatwaves were life-threatening for Australia’s animals.

“We know that climate change is driving record temperatures, and we know how to fix it,” she said.

“Our government can help halt climate change in its tracks by setting climate targets and policies in line with the science. That means a net zero by 2035 target and a plan to replace fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas with clean, renewable sources.

“Australia’s animals – and the people who love and care for them – depend on it.”

Weather forecast Mike Griffin will share his thoughts on the heatwave in Saturday’s weekend edition of CQ Today.