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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

20 February 2001

International report highlights climate change risks to Australia


Australian, the driest inhabited continent on Earth, could become even drier as the world hots up, according to a report just released by the world's leading climate change scientists.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill said the report, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicates that with global warming, rainfall would decrease for much of Australia. The risk of droughts associated with El Niño events was also likely to increase.

Senator Hill said the world must take heed of predictions that climate change will have an increasing impact on human and natural systems as the frequency and severity of extreme weather events increases.

Farming, tourism and coastal development would also be hit by these changing conditions. 'At risk' natural environments include coral reefs, presently endangered or sensitive species, freshwater wetlands in the coastal zone, and alpine areas.

"The message is clear: Governments around the world must work together to cut greenhouse emissions and develop strategies to adapt to climate change," Senator Hill said.

"Australian business will also need to be on the front foot to consolidate its position in a warmer world.

"The Commonwealth Government is making sure that Australia plays its part in the global effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions. We have committed almost $1 billion over five years towards this goal and are funding initiatives that will significantly boost our use of renewable energy as well as pursuing greater energy efficiency.

"We are encouraging industry, business and the community to use less greenhouse gas intensive transport. We're working to increase the use of alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas (CNG) and LPG, and to improve consumer awareness of the fuel efficiency of their motor vehicles.

"We are providing the impetus for greenhouse action through the $400 million Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program, developed to support activities that will result in substantial emission reductions or sink enhancements. The Government is also investing in greenhouse research and monitoring Australia's progress towards our Kyoto target."

February 20, 2001
Media contact: Belinda Huppatz (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364

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