This year is turning out to be a sizzler for Australia, showing that global warming is alive and well.

However, as this country burns, climate action by the Australian and New Zealand governments seems tied up in knots.

Let's recap the climate events in Australia.

The summer of 2016-17 saw prolonged and, at times, extreme heat over New South Wales, southern Queensland, South Australia and parts of northern Victoria.


January 2017 saw the highest monthly mean temperatures on record for Sydney and Brisbane, and the highest daytime temperatures on record for Canberra.

During these heatwaves, daily maximum temperatures across southeast Australia exceeded 40C over very large areas and were typically 8C to 12C above the January and February averages.

The highest temperatures recorded during this period were 48.2C on February 9 at Tarcoola, South Australia, followed by 47.9C on February 12 at Walgett, New South Wales; new February high temperature records at these places, as well as many others.

Many sites measured record runs of consecutive days of high temperatures.

In New South Wales, for example, Moree had 54 consecutive days of 35C or above - and Mungindi had 51 successive days.

Winter 2017 was something else.

For winter mean maximum temperatures were the highest on record - 1.9C above average - for Australia as a whole.

Daytime temperatures averaged across winter were above average for nearly all of Australia.

Large areas of northern Australia observed record high mean maxima; for Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory winter mean maxima were the warmest on record.

I was staying in southeast Queensland during this period and the "winter warmth" meant that we could plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and cucumbers in early July - a first for me.

And being a cyclist, the magpies were doing their bombing raids a full month earlier.

Male birds attempt to protect eggs and chicks in their nests - and we cyclists are seen as danger.

Swooping magpies are common in Australia normally in September, but this year started in August in southeast Queensland.

And on September 23, my tomatoes, which are supposed to be ready by December, were already ripening.

On that date, the mercury hit 37.7C in northeast Victoria, and 40.5C at Willcannia in New South Wales - both new September state heat records.

Also on the same day, Birdsville in western Queensland reached 41.6C, just shy of the state record.

These values are more akin to hot summer days, rather than early spring.

On the other side of the Tasman, our glaciers continue to lose ice mass from Niwa's end of summer snowline surveys.

There is approximately about a fifth of the ice volume presently cloaking our Southern Alps compared with the 1890s.

As Australia sizzles and the ice on our Southern Alps shrink what climate action is being taken by the Australian and New Zealand governments?

In Australia, within the governing Liberal-National Party (LNP) coalition, climate policy is debilitated.

Australia will fall short of its Paris carbon reduction targets unless it massively lifts its renewable energy production to two thirds of national demand in the next decade or so.

The LNP is in a shambles, with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott prepared to cross the floor to stop further renewable energy policies.

There is a rump within the governing LNP who wish to continue investment in fossil fuel power stations at the expense of renewable energy.

And in New Zealand, Steven Joyce has signalled that there will be no further development of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) until the second half of 2018.

This means that any meaningful climate policy will not be developed until over three years after the Paris Climate Accord was reached in 2015.

Not a case for urgency with National.

As global warming continues to sizzle Australia, and shrink the "Long White Cloud" ice mantle, the Australian government climate action is quite dysfunctional.

In New Zealand under National it is largely absent.

Let's hope the new parliament in Aotearoa that eventuates will be more active.

Dr Jim Salinger is a climate scientist, an honorary research fellow at the University of Otago and deputy editor of the scientific journal Climatic Change.