Australian Research Strategies: Agriculture and Climate Change
Australian agriculture operates within one of the most variable climates in the world and
consequently Australia’s farmers have developed highly resilient and adaptive production systems.
This variability in the climate has always posed a risk to the nation’s agricultural industries and
changing climatic trends are likely to create new and additional risks.
In 2008, the Australian government identified climate change as one of its highest priorities and
instigated measures to mitigate domestic emissions, to adapt to inevitable changes in the climate and
to contribute to international efforts to develop solutions.
A key underpinning of the Australian research effort has been the Australian Climate Change
Research Program 2004-2008, which has five research components:
- Understanding the key drivers of climate change in the Australian region
- A national climate modelling system
- Climate change, climate variability and extreme events
- Regional climate change initiatives
- International research collaboration
A major new initiative aimed at mitigating Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions is the
development of an emissions trading scheme. This scheme, which is called the Carbon Pollution
Reduction Scheme (CPRS), is due to be introduced in 2010 but won’t initially include agricultural
emissions. Inclusion of agriculture will be assessed in 2013 and will likely be dependent on addressing
significant hurdles in relation to measuring, monitoring and verifying the dispersed emissions that are
characteristic of the sector.
Agriculture will be exposed to the CPRS through increased cost of inputs such as energy,
fertiliser and transport. There may be some opportunities for the sector to provide offsets through
sequestration. Research needs that have been identified in devleopment of the climate change research
strategy for primary industries include: understanding the management of emissions from agriculture
(including life-cycle assessments); development of formal reporting processes; and approaches and
technologies to assist individual enterprises reduce emissions, improve production efficiencies, and
Examples of practical mitigation at an enterprise scale might include increasing the efficiency of
nitrogenous fertiliser use, reducing fuel consumption, upgrading to energy-efficient equipment and
increasing feed-use efficiency in ruminant livestock.
A recent report by the Bureau of Meteorology and the Commonwealth Industrial and Scientific
Research Organisation (CSIRO) indicated Australia can anticipate a warmer and drier climate in the
future. Median estimates for 2030 indicate a warming of about 1°C, relative to 1990, a 3 to 5%
decrease in rainfall and a 2 to 4% increase in potential evaporation. Regional variability in these
climate estimates is high.
Australia’s primary industries face unique challenges in this changing climate. There will be
physical impacts (e.g. changing rainfall patterns), social impacts (e.g. changes to farm business
structures, community demographics, health and wellbeing) and economic impacts (e.g. changing
productivity levels and markets).
Australia’s Farming Future is the Australian Government’s climate change initiative for primary
industries. The objective of Australia’s Farming Future is to equip primary producers with the
necessary knowledge and tools to adapt and adjust to the impacts of climate change.
To support the adaptation and adjustment to climate change within the agriculture sector, the
priorities of the Australian government are to: - increase industries’ productivity and innovation,
- improve biosecurity and quarantine systems?including product integrity, and
- maintain and expanding international trade and market access.
|Date of issued||2008-10-21|
|Creator||John P. Sims|
|Publisher||Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences|
|Rights||Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences|