Human activity, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, has caused a dramatic rise in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.
If the current emissions trend continues to 2070, average temperatures in Australia are expected to rise by 2.2–5.0 ˚C, endangering ecosystems, water security and coastal communities. Australians, as inhabitants of the driest continent, have more at risk than most in a warming world.
While in absolute terms Australia’s emissions appear small alongside the major industrial countries, per person they are nearly twice the OECD average. This is due mainly to our heavy reliance on fossil fuels for energy, particularly the dominance of coal in electricity production.
Extreme weather is one of the most obvious effects of climate change, and its incidence is expected to rise as the world warms. As we have seen with bushfires and floods in Australia in recent years, extreme weather can have catastrophic environmental, social and economic effects.
Loss of biodiversity
Changing climate is an increasing cause of plant and animal extinctions and falling numbers among some species. In the marine environment, warming and acidifying oceans threaten the loss of coral reefs and kelp forests, disruption to fisheries and aquaculture and proliferation of marine diseases and alien species.
Effects on agriculture
Agriculture, so important to Australia’s economy and way of life, stands to be severely damaged by low rainfall, higher temperatures and more extreme weather in many regions.
The impacts of climate change are expected to reach deeply into our society, with possible increases in infectious diseases as organisms spread into new areas, conflict over resource shortages, political instability, population displacement and refugees.
Solutions and the role of philanthropy
By acting to decrease our carbon emissions now, we are purchasing an insurance policy for our future environment. To achieve this, we need to:
- Accelerate a low carbon economy by among other things, investing in clean energy and implementing energy efficiency programs;
- Partner with and pressure business;
- Promote state, regional and local initiatives that reduce carbon emissions and increase available renewable energy; and
- Engage mainstream Australians and other key constituencies.
Need help deciding what to fund?
The AEGN Climate Change and Energy Grantmaking Framework helps to make your funding decisions as effective and strategic as possible. The Grantmaking Framework breaks the issue of climate change and energy down into a number of sub-categories. You can choose the sub-category that inspires you the most and concentrate your funding in this area.
The AEGN Climate Change and Energy Funding Table explores funding at a more detailed level, presenting funding ideas for a variety of funding amounts, ranging from small grants to large grants. It uses the different approaches you can fund which are taken from AEGN’s Giving Green: A Guide to Environmental Grantmaking. The Table helps you hone in on the specific type or types of projects that you can fund.
Download the Climate Change and Energy Funding Table (PDF)