Climate Change: Science and Solutions for Australia
Chapter 7: Adapting agriculture to climate change
By Dr Chris Stokes and Dr Mark Howden
There is a national imperative to equip Australian agriculture to be prepared to adapt to climate change. Some agricultural communities, industries, or regions will have a greater capacity to adapt than others: understanding their constraints and incentives is important in ensuring that they do so successfully.
An early part of adapting agriculture to climate change involves helping communities to understand why adaptation is a needed part of today’s vision of the future and therefore of their management strategies.
Successful adaptation to climate change will require flexible, risk-based approaches that deal with future uncertainty and provide strategies that are robust enough to cope with a range of possible local climate outcomes and variations.
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. These options can, and should be, prioritised as part of a ‘no regrets’ or win–win strategy for agriculture because they will provide immediate and ongoing benefits as well as preparing the sector for climate change.
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