Adapting to Climate Change


Adapting to Climate Change

RDA Orana recently joined the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) hosted workshop attended by over 70 local representatives mainly of various local, state and Commonwealth government agencies. The theme was Enabling Regional Adaptation to Climate Change, and this particular workshop was focused on the Central West and Orana regions.

There can be little doubt now that climate change is real.  OEH has published some “snapshots” of the impact of climate change on its website,  Predictions of how temperature, rainfall, severe weather events and other climatic factors are likely to change are improving, particularly at a local/regional scale – but what does this mean for agricultural production? Public health? Infrastructure? Water supply? How will the regional economy be impacted?

Many people are aware that agriculture will change, and that predicted higher frequency of heat waves, bushfires, floods and storms will put pressure on our emergency services.  However, there is a host of less obvious impacts, such as the breakdown of roads as pavements are deformed by heat, and warping of railway lines – both of which will affect the transport of freight into and out of our region, and therefore impact significantly on the regional economy.  Disruptions to transport will also affect the community’s capacity to travel – for recreation, to access health services, to get to school….the list goes on.

Armed with this awareness of the enormous range of impacts and improved knowledge of likely local climatic changes, what should governments be doing to ensure that regional economies can withstand the onslaught and continue to be productive, prosperous communities?

In this workshop, participants looked at key regional issues/strengths, how these operate now, what is already being done to “tweak” the system in light of climate change, and what might be necessary when “tweaking” is no longer enough to cope with the changing environment.

A holistic approach to government policy is required to enable to region to adapt to climate change.  It is important to maintain as much flexibility as possible.  Policies must consider the region’s ability to capitalize on the opportunities they are designed to provide; “one size fits all” rarely does.

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