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Last Updated: Friday, 2 January, 2004, 07:12 GMT
Australia 'facing hotter future'

By Phil Mercer
BBC correspondent in Sydney

There is a warning that Australia faces a future of higher temperatures, more severe droughts and raging bushfires, as well as major outbreaks of tropical diseases.

Australian forest fire
The forecast says Australia can expect more bushfires
These gloomy predictions are made in a new government report on climate change over the next 70 years.

The findings will add to pressure on Prime Minister John Howard over his decision not to sign the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gases.

The report by Australia's leading climate scientists gives a devastating assessment of what future generations can expect.

It is predicted the country will be hotter, more prone to drought and severe storms.

The study has claimed average annual temperatures will rise by up to six degrees by 2070.

Tropical disease

There is more bad news. Climate change caused by global warming will, say the authors of the study, put great pressure on water resources, while the Great Barrier Reef could be threatened by the bleaching of coral.

On top of all that, there is the prospect of more outbreaks of tropical diseases such as dengue and Ross River Fever.

Great Barrier Reef
Global warming threatens the Great Barrier Reef
In what could be interpreted as a criticism of the government's opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, the report has said any reduction in greenhouse gases would help Australia avoid the most damaging aspects of a changing climate.

Prime Minister John Howard has refused to ratify the global agreement, claiming it would cost jobs and damage industry and would be meaningless without the support of the United States, which has also rejected it.

The government has established an action plan to ensure Australia continues to cut damaging emissions without compromising its economic development.




SEE ALSO:
Australia slammed over environment
19 Aug 02  |  Asia-Pacific


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