Climate Change Science Snapshot 2023 - A resource for directors

Monday, 04 December 2023

Melissa Lewandowski photo
Melissa Lewandowski
Senior Policy Adviser

    In order to assist directors better understand the latest science, the AICD, in partnership with CSIRO, has developed the Climate Change Science Snapshot 2023: An overview for Australian company directors. Download the resource here.

    The publication highlights that the globe is currently on course to significantly overshoot Paris Agreement temperature targets, with 2.5 – 3 °C warming by the end of the century expected under current policy settings.

    What’s covered?

    The snapshot provides directors with an overview of the latest climate science to help inform boardroom discussions, based on expert advice from Australia’s chief scientific body, the CSIRO.

    The publication covers:

    • Foundational climate concepts;
    • The current state and future outlook of climate change, both in Australia and globally; and
    • Key questions to guide boardroom discussions.

    Key takeaways

    According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the average global temperature at the Earth’s surface has warmed by 1.1 °C since the second half of the 19th century, due to global greenhouse emissions. Australia experienced its warmest winter on record in 2023, and this trend will continue.

    Further instances of climate-related hazards are set to continue impacting  Australia, including rising sea levels, heatwaves, storms and tropical cyclones.  As these hazards increase in frequency and intensity, so will the likelihood of damage and/or financial losses expected to be incurred by the Australian community and businesses.

    Globally, there have been efforts to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with Australia and almost 200 other countries ratifying the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Paris Agreement. The treaty sets goals to limit global temperature rises to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C.

    Despite these goals, under current emissions reduction policies, the world is expected to experience global warming by the end of the century of 2.5–3°C. This magnitude of warming would have catastrophic effects on the Australian environment.

    The science is clear that current emission reduction policies globally are inadequate and must change significantly to make the Paris Agreement goals attainable.

    Suggested actions for directors

    As much as possible, Australian directors should be seeking to have their organisations use the best available scientific data and expertise to inform their climate governance approach. In an operating environment of rapid change, boards should seek to periodically review progress on climate goals and keep abreast of scientific and policy developments.

    As much as individual organisations’ transition plans are critical, the state of the science will continue to shape public debate and broader investor, regulator and stakeholder expectations. Greater ambition and faster decarbonisation is likely to be expected of the corporate sector if the world continues to track poorly against the Paris Agreement targets.


    For directors starting their climate governance journey, please register for the free-to-member Introduction to Climate Governance self-paced e-learning module (link here). 

    For a deeper understanding of climate risk, strategy and opportunities, our upcoming Climate Governance for Australian Directors facilitated short course launches in early 2024. Register your interest if you would like to be notified when the course becomes available.

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