Understanding and research


Information about climate change and its likely impacts is the first requirement of good adaptation and mitigation policies. This requires strengthening of the climate-related research effort in Australia. Garnaut,13 p. xli

In the six years since the fourth national communication, international climate change science has advanced significantly, through many hundreds of studies of the complex, interacting processes driving change in the atmosphere, oceans and terrestrial systems. The base of empirical evidence has greatly expanded, as have the power and sophistication of climate change modelling at global, continental and regional scales. This has enabled better informed and more precise understanding of risks and analysis of opportunities to mitigate and adapt to future change.9,6162

Australia is recognised as being particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.25,63 Acting on the need to improve our understanding of the risks to the environmental systems that support our economy and to identify opportunities to manage such risks via mitigation and adaptation, the Australian Government established the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility in 2007 and the National Framework for Climate Change Science in 2009. It also committed to substantial investments in climate science: $31.2 million over four years from 2009 for the Australian Climate Change Science Program (with matching contributions from CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology); $387.7 million in research infrastructure over four years to increase Australia’s capacity to respond to climate change and improve protection of Australia’s marine territory; and a number of scientific partnerships between CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, and state and territory governments.42,64 (Details of grants made under the Australian Climate Change Science Program can be accessed at the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency website.a)

In December 2007, Australia ratified the Kyoto Protocol and established a new Department of Climate Change (now Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) to take the lead across government on climate change, providing a focus for policy development and advice, both domestically and internationally. Since then, Australia’s system for measuring and reporting on GHG emissions and energy use by major industry sectors and for estimating losses and gains from vegetation and soil sinks (the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory) has substantially improved. This reporting system underpins Australia’s commitment under the protocol to a GHG emissions target of 108% above 1990 levels for the first commitment period (2008–12). The statutory framework for this system was established in 2007 with the introduction of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007. The Act streamlines reporting with the establishment of a single reporting point for emissions and energy data and, since 2008, mandates reporting by companies exceeding thresholds for emissions and energy production. The framework also enables Australia to meet its reporting requirements under the Kyoto Protocol through the establishment of a national registry of emissions units. Planning and quality control systems associated with the national inventory have also been strengthened.42

(2011). Climate: Understanding and research. In: Australia state of the environment 2011, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/climate/topic/understanding-and-research, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65c70bc372