The climate change threat

Learn about the causes and consequences of climate change.

The climate of NSW is changing due to global warming. The effects of climate change on the people and environment of NSW are expected to become more pronounced as the climate continues to change over this century.

Emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases from human activity including power generation, industry, transport, land-use and land cover change, and agriculture, accumulate in the atmosphere, trapping heat and leading to global warming.

Without substantial, concerted action, climate change poses a major threat to humanity and most living systems on Earth. While impacts are being observed now, they will become more pronounced over time. Extreme events such as extreme heat, dangerous fire weather and heatwaves are projected to increase in duration, magnitude and frequency with impacts on communities and infrastructure.

Our NSW State of the Environment 2021 report (SoE) describes the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on our climate, as well as how climate change already affects, or will affect, all aspects of our environment. See the Climate and Air theme.

Go to the report


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Sea level rise 
3.4mm rise in sea level per year at Port Kembla tidal gauge since 1991, equating to a total increase in mean sea level of around 10cm
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Long-term rainfall trends 
Approximately 15% decline in April to October rainfall over southern NSW during the last 20 years (2000-19) relative to 1900-99, despite strong natural variability


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Increase in temperature
Approximately 1.4°C increase in mean NSW temperature from 1910 to 2020
Icon: risks to human and natural systems in temperature inrease
Significant climate related risks to human and natural systems at 1.5°C average global warming and above