How does research inform our response to climate change?

Scientific research can lead to the development of solutions to help us adapt to climate challenges and to cut our greenhouse gas emissions.

Two key responses

Climate mitigation is refers to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to limit the amount of climate change that may occur. Climate adaptation equips society to cope with the changes that are already happening or that are unavoidable in the future.

Adaptation and mitigation are closely linked: the less we mitigate, the more we will be forced to adapt to inevitable changes in the climate, and the bigger the adaptations will have to be. 

Conversely, success in mitigation through early and deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions will necessitate fewer, less extreme adaptations in the long term.

Climate mitigation

Research and development is vital for the continuous creation, improvement and adoption of new technologies to help mitigate climate change. For example, research into renewable energy is an essential part of Australia’s energy mix and will play an increasingly important role as we move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and secure future energy supply.

CSIRO's solar thermal hub is a dynamic solar research facility.

Wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy provide sustainable options to deliver our energy and transport needs.

Scientific research can also:

  • improve the reliability, efficiency and affordability of renewable energy technologies enabling them to become a major energy source in Australia
  • improve building design and energy efficiency to reduce our energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from commercial buildings and homes
  • develop alternative routes to fuel production and transportation power that could lead the way to a sustainable future for road, rail, air and water transport
  • develop new technologies to improve efficiency in the resources sector and maximise the benefits of Australia’s abundant coal, uranium, gas and oil resources.

Climate adaptation

Some climate change and consequent impacts are unavoidable due to the greenhouse gases that are already in the atmosphere and as future emissions increase. To limit the social, economic, and environmental impacts of these changes, we need to adapt.

Scientific research can lead to the development of solutions to help us adapt to climate challenges.

Three areas are critical to successful adaptation to climate change – decision making and how to go about it, the development of specific solutions (technical and other) to climate challenges, and the analysis of barriers to the adoption of systems and technologies that will help us adapt.

Australia is leading the way in the coordinated approach to these areas of adaptation research.


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