Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has weighed into the Australian debate on a carbon price by telling the ABC PM radio program he agreed with Australia setting a carbon price.
"A price on carbon is by far the most effective means globally to bring about mitigation of emissions of greenhouse gases because you know then you are providing a price signal by which new technologies will be developed, consumer actions would be influenced and producers would move towards low carbon technologies and processes and products." he told ABC reporter Sarah Clarke, "So I think a carbon price is an important part of actions to mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases."
Pachauri is in Australia as part of the IPCC Working Group II on Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability Fourth Lead Authors Meeting (LAM4) being hosted by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility of Griffith University on the Queensland Gold Coast from 16-19 May 2011. Up to 100 climate scientists will be attending the symposium. Lead authors are engaged in preparing a report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, which will be released later his year.
Climate scientists claim extreme weather events - such as major floods, heatwaves, droughts, storms - are likely to become more frequent and much more severe due to climate change and global warming caused to a large degree by anthropogenic carbon emissions. "Clearly the world has to be informed about what's going to happen so that we can adapt to these events, we can perhaps invest in infrastructure, in systems whereby societies and communities can adapt to higher frequencies and high intensities of these events." Pachauri told ABC radio.
At a press briefing organised by the Australian Science Media Centre on Monday Professor Neville Nicholls from the Regional Climate Group at Monash University, outlined some of the recent extreme events that has motivated research into risk management and adaption planning to cope with more frequent and extreme weather events. While most people remember with horror the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009 that killed 173 people, a record setting heatwave a week before killed 374 people (See the Age - Death toll soared during Victoria's heatwave). While most of these deaths were elderly people there was a 55 per cent increase in the death rate for people aged 5-64 according to Nicholls.
The heatwaves in January and February 2009 set a new Melbourne maximum temperature record of 46.4°C, new State maximum temperature records for Victoria (48.8°C at Hopetoun) and Tasmania (42.2°C at Scamander), and contributed to the Black Saturday bushfires.
The CSIRO has warned for several years that Australia to get hotter, wetter, with more extreme weather. In February 2011 Ross Garnaut in his climate update report - Weighing the costs and benefits of climate change action - for the Federal parliament Multi-Party Climate Change Committee, warned of the costs of inaction on climate change will escalate.
Australia is one of the countries more vulnerable to an increase in natural disasters, but also possesses greater weath and resources to adapt than countries like Burma and Bangladesh said Dr Pachauri.