Go to whole of WA Government search

Global concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere have been rapidly growing over the past century and are now higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years. There is a time lag between the addition of emissions to the atmosphere and the climate’s response. Even if greenhouse gas concentrations are stabilised at some point in time, global mean temperatures are likely to take decades after that to stabilise and associated impacts such as sea level rise may continue for centuries (IPCC, 2013).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report says:

‘warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased’.

The report concluded that the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century is ‘extremely likely’ to be human influence and that most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of carbon dioxide are stopped.

Responses to climate change include:

  • Mitigation—actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance greenhouse gas sinks; and
  • Adaptation—the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities.

More information on adaptation is available in the Fact Sheet pdfWhat is adaptation? The State Government released its strategy pdfAdapting to our Changing Climate in 20121.11 MB, which outlines responses to climate change in Western Australia.