18 December 2003

Living with Climate Change

The global climate is changing and there is now strong evidence and international consensus that a significant part of this change is due to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Elevated levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases also mean that our climate will continue to change throughout this century and beyond. The question is not will the climate change?, but rather how will it change? and what are the consequences? for regions and sectors.

Adaptation to climate change impacts will require an understanding of projected changes and impacts on regions of Australia, sectors of economy and society. It also requires an understanding of how effective our current approaches to managing climate variability and extremes are, and assessment of the range of management and policy tools available to help reduce future vulnerability to climate change. Adaptation will allow the costs of climate change impacts to be minimised and any opportunities and benefits to be realised. It is therefore important that we move to address the information gaps and uncertainties that exist around potential climate change impacts on Australia and the adaptation tools and options available.

The Government stated in its 15 August 2002 announcement entitled Global Greenhouse Challenge: The Way Ahead for Australia that it will implement policies and programs that will assist adaptation to climate change.

The Australian Greenhouse Office, under the direction of Australia's conservative government, has produced a lengthy and detailed report. I am going to try and summarise it over the next few days and look at how the government is responding. I am bemused that Environment Minister Kemp proudly tells us that Australia is close to achieving its Kyoto targets.

We did not ratify Kyoto. Why, then, are the Kyoto targets worth chasing? If they are worth chasing why is Kyoto not worth ratifying?

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