Canberra electorates won't see a 'winter' by 2050: report

Canberra will no longer enjoy its famed winters if more isn't done to stop climate change. Photo: Supplied.

Canberra will no longer enjoy its famed winters if more isn't done to stop climate change. Photo: Supplied.

By 2050, Canberra's summers will start in early October and taper off midway through March unless radical efforts are made to combat the threat of climate change, the Australian Conservation Foundation has warned.

The foundation teamed up with the Australian National University to create a tool allowing Australians to see how badly their electorate will be affected by climate change in 30 years.

It also warned Australia will cease to see a winter as we know it, with a prolonged, hotter period over the traditional summer months the designers called "New Summer".

Associate professor of design at the university, Dr Mitchell Whitelaw, said the data wasn't new, but researchers had tried to find a way to directly engage people.

"It's through no fault of the science," Dr Whitelaw said.

"We get figures that relate to the whole country. It lacks impact because it's easier to think of 'Oh, that doesn't relate to me'."

Now people could see how badly their own electorate was affected, Dr Whitelaw said.

"When you vote, your member should be able to reflect your interests."

The data was compiled from over 4000 locations across Australia, with voters in the federal electorate of Fenner set to be the worst hit in the capital.

Labor MP and shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh currently holds the seat, which is set to see daily average maximums increase by 3.9 degrees by 2050.

The 20 most vulnerable electorates are expected to see an increase in average maximum temperatures of between 4.77 degrees (Groom) and 3.81 degrees (Hume).

Of those 20 electorates, eight were held by the Nationals, five each were held by the Liberal and Labor parties, one was held by independent Bob Katter and one was the redrawn seat of Canberra, which does not yet have a federal member.

Australia's hottest electorate by 2050 will be Groom, which includes Toowoomba in Queensland, with daily average maximums increasing by 4.8 degrees by 2050.

According to the data, there will only be a few places in Tasmania which still experience a winter by 2050, but Australia's "New Summer" will see daily temperatures exceed 30 to 40 degrees for longer periods.

The tool uses data from the Bureau of Meteorology and the Queensland government's Scientific Information for Land Owners, and assumes global greenhouse gas emissions will continue to accelerate.

Dr Steven Crimp, from the university's Climate Change Institute, helped Dr Whitelaw and codesigner Dr Geoff Hinchliffe project the temperature rises.

He said he hoped graphic devices helped drive a conversation on climate change.

"What we see in the Canberra region is we're going to be more frequently breaking temperature records," Dr Crimp said.

"We're now moving outside the realms of climate variability into a new period of variance."

Dr Crimp pointed to Canberra's summer just past, which was the hottest on record.

"Canberra's January was almost seven degrees warmer ... than the long term average," he said.

Even the Snowy Mountains to Canberra's south will no longer see a winter by 2050 if more isn't done to slow climate change - which means no ski season.

"In a lot of those regions they're already struggling now with snow coverage," Dr Crimp said.

Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said too many MPs were failing their local communities by not addressing climate change.

“It is disappointing that many of the federal electorates found to have the highest projected increases in average maximum temperatures are represented by MPs who do little to champion climate action, or worse, deny the established science,” she said.

The tool can be accessed via myclimate.acf.org.au.