The Critical Decade: comment

A new report from the independent Climate Commission "should be a wake-up call for global and national action on greenhouse gas emissions", says UNSW climate scientist Professor Matthew England.

A new report from the independent Climate Commission "should be a wake-up call for global and national action on greenhouse gas emissions", says Professor Matthew England, co-director of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre.

Titled The Critical Decade, the report confirms the Earth's surface is warming rapidly, that "humanity is almost surely the primary cause" and that social, economic and environmental impacts are already being seen in Australia. It says the economic and social risks have never been clearer and the case for action has never been more urgent.

Professor England chairs the Climate Commission's Science Advisory Panel, which also includes two other UNSW climate scientists - Professor Andy Pitman and Dr Lisa Alexander.

Commenting on the report, Professor England said: "This is a timely and important report, with the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report still two years from completion.

"It spells out the latest climate knowledge and climate observations with a focus on Australia. The message is clear: climate change is accelerating and it is already impacting Australia significantly. The window for limiting future and costly climate change is rapidly closing. This should be a wake-up call for global and national action on greenhouse gas emissions.

"This report builds on a series of documents put out by the climate science community over the past two decades," Professor England said.

"Here in Australia there seems to have been a gradual shift in the political rhetoric around climate change science, with now just a handful of rogue MPs claiming the fundamental science is still under debate. But this supposed 'debate' is completely fabricated: it has no legitimacy in the science community, it goes against fundamental laws of physics and it has been linked to industry lobby groups.

"The basics of the greenhouse effect and the role of human emissions are well-established from more than 100 years of scientific research. The time for any pretence that this is not so has long passed," he said.

Media contact: Bob Beale, Faculty of Science media liaison, 0411 705 435