The need for a strong net-zero emissions future has been highlighted by new research that shows many of South Australia’s climate indicators are in decline.
The Department for Environment and Water has released comprehensive report cards on the condition of key climate themes.
The research also includes climate projections to provide insight on emerging challenges, such as drier and warmer conditions.
The release of the evidenced-based assessments coincides with the start of the UN’s COP28 Climate Change Conference in Dubai on 30 November.
The research supports the state government’s commitment of at least a 50% reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (from 2005 levels) and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Key findings from South Australia’s Environmental Trend and Condition Report Cards include:
- South Australia’s average temperatures are currently 1.1C warmer than in the 1970s.
- Average daily maximum temperatures across the state are projected to increase by a further 1.4C to 2.2C by 2050, compared with 1986-2005.
- The frequency of days reaching 40C in Adelaide has tripled to 5.1 days a year in the past decade (2013-2022), compared with an average of 1.7 days a year in the previous 4 decades.
- Average annual rainfall across SA is projected to decrease by between 4% and 23% by 2050.
- In the Hills and Fleurieu landscape region, a reduction in average annual rainfall of between 8% and 12% is projected by 2050.
- Sea levels along the state’s coast have been rising at an average rate of 2mm a year between 1966 and 2022.
- SA’s greenhouse gas emissions reduced 42% between 2004-05 and 2020-21, while renewable energy use increased from 1% to 69% in the past 20 years.
The Department for Environment and Water has also released a new online tool to give businesses, government agencies and the community access to climate projection maps and data.
The interactive maps display projected changes to temperatures and rainfall across South Australia for a range of future time periods.
The climate data can be displayed in 10km and 50km grids or for individual SA landscape regions or local health network areas.
Department for Environment and Water Principal Advisor Climate Change Science Graham Green said the new interactive maps showing projected changes to average temperatures and rainfall across South Australia would be a valuable tool to help governments and businesses plan how they will adapt to climate change.
"Reductions in rainfall will lead to less availability of water in some regions, while higher temperatures and less rain will mean increased demand for irrigation water to grow crops," Dr Green said.
"A small reduction in rainfall can have a significant effect on the amount of water flowing into our reservoirs and agricultural dams. A drier landscape and more days above 40C will increase the risk of bushfires.
"Analysing this data will help us understand and manage those climate risks so we can protect our water security, safeguard our agricultural production and prepare for bushfire threats."
The maps and data can be viewed at https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/climate-viewer/
For more details on the report cards, visit https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/about-us/our-reports/trend-and-condition-report-cards