Dealing with climate variability in Australian agriculture

Australia's dryland agriculture is already vulnerable to a changing climate. Photo: Eric Wakker.

This week, Australia's national science agency (CSIRO) released Climate Change: Science and Solutions for Australia , a comprehensive synthesis of how climate change is already impacting Australia, what further changes can be expected, and options for dealing with those changes.

Of particular interest is the chapter on adapting agriculture to climate change, which reveals that the costs of adaptation may not be as high as expected:

Many climate adaptation options for agriculture are similar to existing ‘best practice’ and good natural resource management, and do not require farmers to make radical changes to their operations and industries in the near term.

There are significant opportunities for greenhouse gas mitigation in forestry and agriculture, including better livestock management and controlling wildfires: nearly a third of Australia’s terrestrial carbon is stored in tropical savannas which, but fires in these areas currently contribute 2–3 per cent of the nation’s total accountable emissions.

Dr. Megan Clark, the CEO of CSIRO, is keen to push better science into the policy world, and has supported carbon taxes in Australia, in addition to low carbon technologies and policies to encourage behaviour change. Dr. Clark sits on the CCAFS Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change

Dr. Clark recently spoke to us about climate variability facing Australian farmers, and how it's connected to water resources, energy and the "vibrancy" of regions and towns. Watch the full interview below.