The severe heatwave warning follows driest year on record

When a severe heatwave warning was declared for large parts of the country over the last weekend of November 2020, contributing to dangerous fire conditions, it was the catalyst that revealed just how hot our weather has become.

As climate change continues to drive extreme temperatures, “2019 was the hottest and driest year on record for Australia, and the second hottest for the entire planet.

“Extreme heat and dry conditions are part of a long-term warming trend driven by climate change, which set the scene in 2019 for what was to become the worst fire season Australia has ever experienced,” said Climate Councillor, and climate change expert, Professor Will Steffen.

“Since 1960, the number of record hot days in Australia has doubled, and this increase is being driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas,” said Professor Steffen. 

People had to take notice when a severe-to-extreme heatwave across every mainland state and territory bought with it multiple consecutive days of 40-degree temperatures, with searing heat priming fire conditions.  

“As a result of climate change, we are seeing heatwaves starting earlier in the season and they are becoming more frequent and even hotter,” said Climate Councillor and public health physician, Dr Kate Charlesworth. 

“Heatwaves are a silent killer, leading to more deaths than all the other extreme weather events combined – including bushfires, cyclones, and floods,” said Dr Charlesworth. 

“A year on from the horror that was the Black Summer bushfires, Australians know all too well the dangers associated with prolonged extreme heat,” said Climate Councillor, and climate change expert, Professor Will Steffen.

“To protect Australians we must rapidly and deeply reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and make the switch to renewable energy,” he said. 

Please refer to the Climate Council’s guide to keeping yourself, and your loved ones safe during a heatwave, log-on here:  

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