Heating climate requires broad action

As a new climate report paints a damning picture of the state of the Australian environment, the federal government says preparations must go beyond emissions reductions.

The country's climate has warmed on average 1.47C since national records began in 1910, according to the State of the Climate report released on Wednesday.

"That's why we have set aside a billion dollars for a disaster-ready fund," Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek told the ABC.

"It reminds us too that we need to prepare for the worst - you already have governments talking about changing land use in the future, how to better prepare our emergency services, how to better prepare our health system for these extreme events."

The report found Australia is facing longer fire seasons, more intense tropical cyclones and oceans riddled with acidity due to rising global temperatures.

The eight years from 2013 to 2020 were the warmest on record, with 2019 taking top spot for the hottest recorded year.

"Concentrations of greenhouse gases are at the highest levels seen on Earth in at least two million years," director of the CSIRO's Climate Science Centre Jaci Brown said.

Since the 1950s, extreme fire weather has increased and fire seasons are starting sooner and ending later.

More rain like in recent La Nina seasons can heighten fire risks because thick vegetation dries out and creates fuel loads.

During question time on Wednesday, Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said the government was committed to action, with an emissions reduction target legislated at 43 per cent by 2030 and the Senate ready to pass the government's electric vehicle tax cut.

"These are all important steps that are necessary and vital for Australia to act," he said.

However the Greens have remained critical of Labor's climate change policy, arguing the report reinforced the need for no more coal and gas plants.

"The government notes the State of the Climate report but then hides behind targets that are too low to fix it while also opening up new coal and gas mines," party leader Adam Bandt said.

The report from the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO found Australia in the coming decades will experience increasing air temperatures and decreasing cool-season rain, with short but heavy rains expected.

Sea levels will continue to rise and warmer ocean temperatures will mean coral bleaching becomes more likely.

Australians will experience fewer tropical cyclones but the ones they do will be more intense.

As those in flood-affected areas could attest to, the intensity of short rainfall events has increased 10 per cent per storm.

The report comes following widespread flooding in parts of NSW and Victoria.

Government Services Minister Bill Shorten said the cost could run into the billions of dollars.