Overall, the world has warmed on average just a little over 1oC since the start of the industrial revolution due to human caused climate change. We can see what this has done to winter in the Australian mountains. Snow pack has been in decline since at least 1957. Winter snowfalls are becoming more erratic. Climate change is already visible at lower elevation resorts in the Australian Alps. And recent climate research suggests that the Australian Alps may suffer from a loss of snow as climate change supercharges phenomena known as ‘atmospheric rivers’. These are long, narrow regions of high moisture content in the lower atmosphere that transport most of the water vapour from the tropics to the sub-tropics and midlatitudes,

A new report from UN Climate Change shows that while countries are ‘bending the curve’ of global greenhouse gas emissions downward, that these efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

According to the report, the combined climate pledges of 193 Parties under the Paris Agreement could put the world on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century. That would mean the end of winters as we know them.

The latest science from the IPCC released earlier this year uses 2019 as a baseline, and indicates that greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut 43% by 2030. This is critical to meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, including more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves and rainfall.

UN climate leaders requested last year (at the climate conference called COP26, held in Glasgow) that countries should increase the ambition of their emissions reduction pledges further in line with the Paris targets by the 2022 COP27 Climate Summit, which kicks off in Egypt on November 6. The UN report has been released before the meeting in the hope the information will influence the commitments that countries will bring to Egypt.

If we want to have a hope of holding on to winter as we know it, we must take action now

Australia’s new target of a 43 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 brings us more in step with the Paris Agreement, compared to the 26-28 per cent target committed to by the previous governments.

But a report from the University of Melbourne’s Climate Energy College last year found 43 per cent was still insufficient to keep Australia within its 2C climate budget — our own portion of the global emissions budget.

“For Australia to remain within its 2C carbon budget, we would need to reduce emissions by 50 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030, reaching net-zero emissions by 2045.

“To remain within the 1.5C carbon budget, the targets would be 76 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2035.”

A key starting point is for Australia to do it’s bit in the global efforts and increase its ambition to reduce emissions.

A simple thing you can do is to support this petition from Protect our Winters, which calls on the Australian government to set higher emission reduction targets.