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Climate refers to the long-term weather pattern within a particular region. This is different to weather which can change from hour-to-hour, day-to-day, month-to-month or even year-to-year. A region's weather patterns, usually tracked for at least 30 years, are considered its climate. South Australia’s climate is changing, and it will impact every aspect of our regional and urban environments.

Key Messages

South Australia

  • We need to be proactive and make changes now to build resilience and protect our environment and our health from climate change. Governments at all levels, businesses, households and the community each have important roles and we need to work together to mitigate the causes and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
  • Recent changes to our climate can only be explained by human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases and modifications to our environment. In South Australia, following the progress in decarbonising the electricity generation sector, the transport and agriculture sectors are now the highest emitters of greenhouse gases.
  • Decreases in emissions can be attributed mainly to:
    • renewable electricity generation (large-scale wind farms and rooftop solar panels)
    • the phasing out of coal-fired power stations
    • increasing carbon sinks from the land use, land-use change and forestry sector.
  • In May 2022, South Australia declared a climate emergency and committed to restoring a safe climate by transforming the economy to net zero emissions.
  • The South Australian Government now has statewide goals of:
    • reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% from 2005 levels by 2030
    • achieving net zero emissions by 2050
    • achieving 100% renewable energy generation by 2030.
  • Building on existing actions, the South Australian Government is developing a statewide emissions reduction plan to support the next steps to achieve the targets.
  • We are making progress on achieving our targets as follows:
    • Approximately 70% of South Australia’s energy is now generated via renewable energy sources
    • South Australia’s carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (MtCO2-e) have reduced by 42% since 2005.
  • The South Australian Government has identified a list of 65 actions to mitigate the causes of climate change and strengthen South Australia’s adaptation response. These actions have been allocated to various South Australian government agencies. However, there is concern that actions are not being delivered at the pace that is required to make a difference. A risk-based framework needs to be applied to prioritise actions across government.
  • We need to ensure that we maintain and improve our capacity to store carbon by protecting and restoring vegetation, both on land and in the sea.


The State of the Environment Report 2021 has indicated that within Australia:

  • Climate change continues to occur driven by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. Emissions that have already occurred will influence climate change regardless of whether there is a reduction in emissions in the future. However, our actions now will have a major effect on the trajectory of climate change in the second half of this century. In other words, it may take time for us to see any influence from the actions we take today.
  • Land and ocean temperatures are increasing, with the majority of change occurring since the 1950s.
  • Rainfall is decreasing in southern Australia and increasing in the north. More intense rainfall and extreme fire danger days will become more common.
  • Global emissions of greenhouse gases are continuing to increase. Australia’s emissions are starting to decrease, but not at the rate that is required for us to contribute to the limitation of global warming to 1.50C.
  • Climate change will have a profound impact on our environment and our wellbeing. Governments are actively involved in improving our capacity to adapt to climate change.
  • Indigenous people will need to be involved when addressing climate change due to their intricate knowledge and understanding of the health of Country. In addition, cultural knowledge, traditional practices and wellbeing of Indigenous people will be most impacted by the way they access and use Country.