Scientists, Labor and the Greens say the record-breaking heat of 2013 is further proof of the climate change impact on Australia.
A sweltering 2013, Australia’s hottest year on record, is the product of climate change and the warming trend is set to continue, experts say.
Labor and the Greens have also seized on the record-setting weather to accuse Prime Minister Tony Abbott of ignoring the science and listening to the “tinfoil hat brigade” about climate change.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement shows that 2013 was Australia’s hottest year since records began in 1910, with the hottest spring and summer, the hottest January and September, the hottest summer day and the warmest winter day.
The national mean temperature was 1.2 degrees celsius above the 1961-1990 average.
The record-breaking heat is continuing into 2014, with four weather stations in central Queensland recording highest-ever temperatures on Thursday.
Climate monitoring manager David Jones says there’s no simple, natural factor to explain why the past year was so hot.
For instance, the monsoon arrived exceptionally early in November – which would usually cool things down – yet temperatures were still hot.
Drought years are also hot, but 2013 wasn’t one.
“The globe is warming and Australia is warming. The trend’s pretty clear,” Dr Jones told AAP.
“This background warming trend has been with us for quite a few decades and is likely to continue now through the rest of the century.”
Climate scientists say the record-breaking weather is due to climate change.
Victoria University’s Professor Roger Jones said the burden of climate extremes needed a coordinated national response.
Acting Greens leader Richard di Natale said it went against all evidence for the government to unwind the carbon tax.
“Tony Abbott’s a reckless ideologue who ignores the science and is intent on listening to people who are part of the tinfoil hat brigade,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“The experts right around the world are telling him loudly and clearly that we’ve got a big problem on our hands and we’ve got to start taking action to fix it.”
Acting opposition leader Penny Wong said the only people in Australia who didn’t believe in climate change were Mr Abbott and his cabinet.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that was nonsense.
“What we will do is take direct action that will reduce emissions and we’ll meet our five per cent reduction target,” she told reporters in Perth.
“Under Labor’s carbon tax, prices go up and emissions go up so Labor’s response was a nonsense.”
Senator Wong said the government’s direct action policy was “a con job you have when you think that climate change is absolute crap”.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt was asked to comment directly on the Bureau of Meteorology’s finding that “the past year emphasises that the warming trend continues” but did not respond.