A female and male farmer crouch in a field of green grass.

Agriculture is one of the most sensitive sectors to climate risk.

Primary industries, enterprises and communities adapting to climate change

The Climate Adaptation Flagship is developing adaptation options for Australia’s primary industry and resource sectors to reduce the vulnerabilities and enhance opportunities created by climate change and variability.

  • 14 December 2010 | Updated 5 February 2014

Research theme overview

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Primary industries (agriculture, fisheries, forestry and mining industries) are some of the most sensitive sectors to climate risk.

Agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries contribute to approximately three per cent of the Australian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 14 per cent (A$31 billion)1 of Australia's total industry exports.

Mining contributes to approximately eight per cent of GDP but almost 43 per cent (A$117 billion) of Australia's total industry exports.

The expected negative economic impacts of climate change on primary industries are likely to be made worse by the positive impacts expected in many of our competitor trading nations.

The Flagship is working with primary industries, enterprises and communities to adapt to climate change by:

  • providing practical adaptation strategies that will ensure the long term viability of rural enterprises and communities threatened by climate change
  • exploring adaptation options and tools for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and mining industries and communities that can assist policy makers to minimise negative consequences of climate change and take advantage of new opportunities
  • developing new management techniques and technologies that enable industries and enterprises to adapt to climate change.
    The Flagship is working with primary industries, enterprises and communities to adapt to climate change.

Research areas

To increase the capability of primary industries to adapt to a variable and changing climate, and to inform decision making.

Read more about the Flagship research areas on the following pages. Flagship research is focused on four key areas:

  1. quantifying the vulnerability of different agricultural and mining industries and communities to climate change, assessing the likely limits to adaptation, and how adaptation can be achieved
  2. developing new technologies and practices to respond to changed climate conditions and carbon dioxide levels and provide improved analysis and delivery approaches for better management of climate variability
  3. identifying when transformational change may be needed, what the options are and their consequences and how to support decision making processes
  4. assessing the potential risks for greenhouse gas mitigation projects (such as tree plantations) from the impacts of a changing climate as well as ensuring that adaptation actions do not increase the national emissions footprint.


The Climate Adaptation Flagship is working with:

  • state and federal government agencies
  • rural industry research and development corporations
  • private industry
  • industry and farmer groups
  • Cooperative Research Centres
  • universities
  • international science collaborators.

The Flagship has strong links with the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Department of Climate Change and the associated National Climate Adaptation Research Facility and is also involved in the Climate Change Research Strategy for Primary Industries, which is a Primary Industries Standing Committee Research and Development Sub-Committee initiative.

1. Data from ABARE-BRS: http://www.abare-brs.gov.au/data 

Stokes C & Howden M. (eds). 2010. Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change: Preparing Australian Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for the Future. CSIRO PUBLISHING. 296 pp.