As it seeks a growth-focus at the G20, the Abbott Government has been struck by another development which will only compound the attention on climate change generated by the US-China vows in Beijing this week.
The Bureau of Meteorology is expecting a heatwave across Queensland, with temperatures to be more than 10 degrees above average in parts of the state – including Brisbane.
In the state capital, the bureau is forecasting 35 and 39 degrees across the weekend, considerably higher than the city's November average of 27.8.
Nearby Ipswich – 40km southwest of Brisbane – will touch 41 on Saturday, according to the bureau, it's hottest November day since 1968 and well above its 30.8 November average, while further inland towns are expecting to reach the mid-40s in the first half of next week.
There will be little overnight relief at the G20, too, with temperatures to remain around the mid-20s in the evenings and only bottom out at 20 degrees early Sunday.
"We're going to have hot days and hot nights as well," Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Dean Narramore said, according to Fairfax Media.
Fairfax reports that police patrolling the summit will increase shift rotations to avoid heatstroke while authorities have advised protesters to carry water.
The heatwave comes as the world tracks for its hottest calendar year on record, having already experienced the hottest consecutive 12 months from October 2013 through to September this year.
Ahead of the G20, a group of health organisations – including the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and the National Toxics Network – have called on climate change to be on the summit's agenda, with the chief executive of the Public Health Association of Australia pointing out the increased risk of heatwaves.
“The sources of energy we choose to power our economy affect the ecological and social factors which determine our community’s health now, and into the future," PHAA chief executive Michael Moore said. "Whether we are talking about the heart and lung disease in people living near coal mines, or the longer term effects from global warming on heatwaves and food production, these factors need to be taken into account by those making decisions about energy policy in Australia, and around the world."
The heat will add momentum to public climate interest after China and the United States announced its historic deal, with the former aiming for a 26-28 per cent cut in emissions by 2025 and China planning an emissions peak in 2030.
Economist Ross Garnaut, last night talking to ABC television's Lateline about the need for Australia to lift its 2020 emissions reduction target from the minimum 5 per cent, reiterated the nation was especially vulnerable to global warming's effects.
"It's been thoroughly demonstrated that Australia would be one of the big losers from unmitigated climate change," he said.
Rural Fire Service Queensland Assistant Commissioner Neil Gallant warned of a "severe fire risk" across much of the state.
“With severe fire danger forecast for much of western Queensland and the south-east corner, we’re asking residents to take extra care, be alert, and help to prevent bushfires,” Mr Gallant said.
Mr Gallant said the conditions would be the worst for the season so far, but that firefighters were readying for a long season.
"Sometimes our fire season finishes in December – this year I think it's going to go longer past December, so we're certainly preparing for a long season," he said.
Amanda McKenzie, chief executive of the Climate Council, said longer and more frequent heatwaves were linked to climate change.
“Heatwaves have already become hotter, longer and are occurring more often right across Australia," she said earlier this month following the release of the IPCC's fifth synthesis report on climate change.
"This increases the risk of bushfires. We’ve always been a land of extreme weather, but climate change is driving more severe and frequent extreme weather."