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New research on climate change driving global heat – what does this mean for Australia?

Climate Media Centre 5 mins read

New international research has reportedly shown that climate change is driving the extreme heat and fires we are watching in North America, Europe and Asia. The World Weather Attribution concluded “the maximum heat like in July 2023 would have been virtually impossible to occur in the US/Mexico region and Southern Europe if humans had not warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels. “


In addition, there are reports that Scientists from the University of Copenhagen writing in the journal Nature Communications warn a major system that helps regulate weather in Europe and North America, could collapse as soon as 2025.


So what does this mean for Australia and our coming summer? What can be done about it? The following experts are available for interview:


To arrange interviews with Climate Council’s Professor Lesley Hughes, Dr Simon Bradshaw, Dr Kate Charlesworth or Greg Mulllins:

George Hyde, Climate Council, 0431 330 919,

Jane Gardner, Climate Council, 0438 130 905


For all other interviews, please contact:

Jemimah Taylor, Climate Media Centre, 0478 924 425

Jacqui Street, Climate Media Centre 0498 188 528



Dr Kate Wylie, Doctors for the Environment Australia executive director and GP


“Heat waves are a major health hazard, and lead to more heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and suicide. In Australia and around the world, heat waves increase the likelihood of bushfires, which means loss of life and homes, as well as the impacts of smoke inhalation such as asthma, airways disease and heart attacks. We know that climate change increases the frequency and severity of heat waves, making the world more dangerous to human health and showing why we must cut emissions now to have a safe future.”


Dr Kimberly Humphrey, emergency physician and Harvard Climate and Health Fellow


“The heatwaves currently happening across the global are occuring at 1.2°C of warming, with our global path set for a perilous 2.7°C increase, even with full adherence to Paris Agreement pledges. The imminent threat of heat on health is indisputable, with the impact of projected heatwaves over 2.5 times worse under even a 2°C global scenario, posing a dire risk to our communities. From exacerbating heart, lung, and kidney diseases to heightening heat stroke risks, the toll on human health is unfathomable. Vulnerable groups like the elderly, children, and the socially isolated will bear the brunt, along with outdoor workers and athletes. In this critical juncture, the sole lifeline to safeguard lives and our planet lies in an unwavering commitment to abandon fossil fuels without exception.”


Dr Nicole Sleeman, GP


“This report confirms what we are seeing in the health system. Heatwaves due to climate change are putting communities at risk, causing more hospital admissions, more heat-related illness presentations in general practice, and more deaths. As a GP working in the tropics, I am seeing symptoms of climate change in the consult room, and the treatment required is urgent action to reduce carbon emissions.”


Dr Kate Charlesworth, Climate Councillor, Sydney physician and member of Doctors for the Environment said:

"Each sweltering summer, we see the devastating reality of climate change as the mercury climbs and our cities turn into furnaces.


The unbearable heat Europe endured in the summer of 2022, the hottest on record, isn't just a discomfort or an inconvenience. It's a killer, claiming more than 61,000 lives.


This isn't just a weather event, it's a global health crisis. How many more people must die before we treat these deadly heat waves as symptoms of the climate crisis and take urgent action?



Dr Dean Miller, Director of the Great Barrier Reef Legacy, was out on the water yesterday and can give anecdotes of current water temperatures around the reef, which are far above anything he has experienced in his career.  



“This year we already have high baseline water temperatures, and we are now entering an El Niño weather pattern which will bring less cloud cover and higher water temperatures; this summer will most likely bring more record high temperatures, further coral bleaching events and the loss of more coral species from the Great Barrier Reef”


Climate Councillor and leader of the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) group, Greg Mullins said:


"An El Niño event is like adding fuel to the fire – literally. With the warmer and drier conditions it brings, it’s likely we're looking at an extended and potentially volatile fire season. 


“What's particularly concerning is that climate change is playing a significant role in the impact of El Niño events. In an El Niño year, unpredictability keeps fire fighters up at night. Rapid changes in weather patterns, often intensified by the effects of climate change, can transform a small fire into an uncontrolled inferno in no time. 


“It is critical that the Government implements the 80 recommendations of the Bushfire Royal Commission. These recommendations are a roadmap to safeguarding our communities. Moreover, there needs to be a significant improvement in disaster spending focused on preparedness and resilience building.”




Dr Simon Bradshaw, the Climate Council’s Director of Research said:

Location, NSW


“Climate change - driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas - is amplifying the impacts of El Niño events. It is likely that El Niño events themselves are also becoming more intense and frequent.


"We must brace ourselves for a demanding season. Sadly, we must prepare for dangerous heatwaves, severe bushfires and drought with a much higher risk of each of these types of events. 


“We only need to look across to countries in the northern hemisphere to see what this means. Southern and central Europe, the US, China, North Africa, and Japan are experiencing severe heatwaves. India and South Korea have suffered deadly floods. Canada is suffering its worst wildfire season on record, with scenes eerily reminiscent of Australia’s Black Summer. This is what climate change looks like.”


Professor Lesley Hughes, Director and Councillor at the Climate Council said:

"Australia is in for a rough summer with an almost certain El Niño on the cards. We do not know how long the El Niño will last. But we do know that when El Niño’s follow La Niña’s we face increased fire danger due to the growth of flammable vegetation. We could also face dangerous heatwaves.


"With the return of El Niño, it is quite likely that 2023 will be the hottest year ever recorded, surpassing 2016. The following year, 2024, may be hotter still and there’s a chance that we’ll see the first single year that the global average temperature is 1.5C above the pre-industrial average.


"This is an urgent call to action. We must rapidly reduce emissions and leave polluting fossil fuels in the past. A safe and liveable future depends on humankind’s ability to rally and fast track the renewables revolution this decade. It’s never been more important."





About us:

Climate Media Centre is a non profit PR agency connecting journalists with everyday Australians on climate issues.

Contact details:

To arrange interviews with Climate Council’s Professor Les Dr Simon Bradshaw, Greg Mulllins, Climate Councillor and former fire chief:

George Hyde, Climate Council, 0431 330 919,

Jane Gardner, Climate Council, 0438 130 905


For all other interviews, please contact:

Jemimah Taylor, Climate Media Centre, 0478 924 425

Jacqui Street, Climate Media Centre 0498 188 528

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