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Cyclone Debbie in Australia continues to cause Chaos with extreme Weather Conditions

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Sydney, March 30, 2017: The aftermath of tropical Cyclone Debbie in Australia on Thursday has continued to cause chaos, with extreme weather conditions continuing throughout much of the state of Queensland.

Schools in the southeast area of the state have been closed, and employers have been told to send their workers home, as the Bureau of Meteorology is expecting a month’s worth of rain to fall in the course of the day, Xinhua news agency reported.

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The two biggest cities in Queensland, the capital Brisbane, and tourist hot-spot the Gold Coast are bracing for huge downpours, with winds clocking between 90 to 125 km per hour set to hit by Thursday afternoon, with a heavy deluge of rain already falling in both areas.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has called for residents to put safety first, and to immediately retrieve their children from schools in the affected regions.

“We don’t want parents and children to be on the road in 90 km/h weather or heavy rainfall,” Trad said.

With safety as a primary focus, attention is also being directed to the massive recovery operation that is underway, with around 1,200 Australian Defence Force personnel being deployed as part of “Queensland Assist 17,” the recovery operation in conjunction with state emergency services crews.

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One of the main priorities for the rescue and recovery operation is the tourism hub of the Whitsunday Islands, the popular island group which includes both Hayman and Daydream Island.

Tourists have been stranded since the catastrophic weather event, with flights to get visitors and staff out of the devastated areas set to begin later this afternoon, weather permitting, as all maritime methods of transportation have been shut down due to the extreme weather conditions.

But Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on the public to not cancel planned trips to the resorts that have been hit, as the potential toll to tourism would see the cost of damages compounded upon if they were to lose even further revenue. (IANS)

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Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

Australia is the world's driest inhabited continent.

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Australia, Coal
The Liddell coal-fired power station is seen in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, Australia. VOA

Australia is rejecting the latest U.N. report on climate change, insisting coal remains critical to energy security and lowering household power bills.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its report released Monday that global greenhouse gas emissions must reach zero by the middle of the century to stop global warming exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The authors warned that if warming was allowed to reach two degrees, the world would be on course toward uncontrollable temperatures.

Climate change, Australia
The coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Georgia. VOA

They made special mention of coal, insisting that its use for power generation would have to fall to between zero and two percent of current usage.

The report has received a lukewarm response by Australia’s center-right government. It has said it has no intention of scaling back fossil fuel production because without coal, household power bills would soar.

Canberra also insists it is on target to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement, which attempts to unite every nation under a single accord to tackle climate change for the first time ever.

Australia earns billions of dollars exporting coal to China and other parts of Asia, while it generates more than 60 percent of domestic electricity.

Queensland, Australia
FILE – A dead tree stands near a water tank in a drought-stricken paddock located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

Australia’s Environment Minister Melissa Price believes the IPCC report exaggerates the threat posed by fossil fuel.

“Coal does form a very important part of the Australian energy mixer and we make no apology for the fact that our focus at the moment is on getting electricity prices down,” Price said. “Every year, there is new technology with respect to coal and what its contribution is to emissions. So, you know, to say that it has got to be phased out by 2050 is drawing a very long bow.”

Australia has some of the world’s highest per capita rates of greenhouse gas pollution. A recent government report showed a failure to reduce levels of greenhouse gas pollution. The survey said that between January and March this year, Australia had its most elevated levels of carbon pollution since 2011.

Coal, Australia
Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

Conservationists argue Australia is doing too little to protect itself from the predicted ravages of a shifting climate.

Also Read: Use Every Resources To Help in Climate Change: Scientists

Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent. Scientists warn that droughts, floods, heat waves, brush fires and storms will become more intense as temperatures rise, with potentially disastrous consequences for human health and the environment, including the Great Barrier Reef. (VOA)