Article by: Hari Yellina
According to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research, hotter and drier circumstances will burden rural populations in regions of Australia, causing “disruption and decrease” in agricultural productivity. The latest IPCC report provides the most devastating assessment yet of the effects of human-caused climate change and the necessity for immediate action to combat it. Under a high-emissions climate, productivity losses in Australia’s agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors might total more than $4 trillion by 2100. Crop yields are expected to fall in portions of Australia’s south and east, and some rural populations in those areas may be put under more stress as a result of the predicted hotter and drier weather.
Climate change, according to Mark Howden, vice-chair of the working group that created the report, is posing a threat to Australia’s agricultural productivity. Prof Howden of the Australian National University stated, “We’re already seeing a substantial drag on our production from climate change, and that’s likely to continue into the future.” He claimed that technical advancements have aided farm profitability in the face of tougher conditions. Prof Howden predicted that as temperatures rise, the window for growing crops will shrink, while livestock will experience more heat stress. “As climate change proceeds, we’re likely to see those negative impacts accelerate, which means we’ll have to be even smarter in how we farm in an increasingly more volatile environment,” he told AAP.
Francis Chiew, the lead author of the IPCC report’s Australasia chapter, warned the Murray-Darling Basin would be jeopardised if the world warmed by 2 degrees Celsius. “If you have 20% less water, you have issues in terms of how you’ll adapt and how you’ll distribute water amongst competing demands, which is already a major issue,” said Dr. Chiew, a senior hydrologist at Australia’s research agency CSIRO. “If you have less water, you grow less food,” he told AAP, “although agriculture has adapted pretty effectively.”
The government has already assisted farmers and regional communities in adapting to the changing environment, according to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud. Farmers and farming communities may get help, research, and innovations to make their land more productive, diversify their income, and become more robust to the effects of climate change. A $5 billion Future Drought Fund is one of the government’s attempts to assist farmers and communities.