Climate change

Climate change is one of the most significant challenges currently facing society.

Forecasts of changing weather patterns present primary industries with particular challenges in how to predict, adapt to and mitigate against the impacts of climate change.

This section outlines the causes and effects of climate change, the impacts on primary industries, actions currently being undertaken by I&I NSW and identifies future research priorities.

As I&I NSW has undertaken climate-related research for more than a decade, the department is well placed to respond positively to the challenges ahead.

Harvested forests provide the greatest ongoing greenhouse gas benefits

This report demonstrates that managed, multiple use production forests have the capacity to abate more GHG emissions than a conservation forest. Find out more ...

Research projects and priorities

I&I NSW research targets gaps in current knowledge in three distinct areas:

Modelling: to test the specific impacts of climate change on various primary industry sectors;

Mitigation: how primary industries can reduce their greenhouse footprint as well as sequester carbon to offset emissions from both primary industries and other sectors; and

Adaptation: adapt to changes in climate that are now inevitable due to past emissions.

Causes of climate change

The Earth's climate varies over times scales from months through to centuries and beyond. Factors that affect the climate over time-scales from hundreds to millions of years include... Find out more ...

Key issues

Fossil fuel combustion, for electricity and transport, and deforestation has increased carbon dioxide concentration to 36% above pre-industrial levels. Other greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour also contribute significantly to the greenhouse effect. Find out more ...

Projected impacts on primary industries

Reduced winter and spring rainfall, and increasing temperatures are the major direct effects of climate change on primary industries in NSW. Indirect effects are greater pressure on water resource and greater incidence of fire.

Some of the potential impacts of these changes on NSW primary industries - Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Aquaculture, and Mining - are outlined. Find out more ...

Responding to climate change

The NSW Government is active in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power generation through the development and demonstration of low emission coal technologies and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Agriculture contributes 12% of Australias emissions, largely due to methane, from ruminant livestock digestion, and nitrous oxide from soils. Find out more about how we can respond to climate change.

Discussion paper

Climate change research priorities for primary industries - discussion paper was launched on February 20, 2008. It outlines the issues and the priorities for science and research to respond to the challenge of climate change.

National Centre for Rural Greenhouse Gas Research

The National Centre for Rural Greenhouse Gas Research is a joint initiative between NSW DPI and the University of New England (UNE) launched 25 May 2009 to provide solutions to the challenges posed to primary industries by climate change, and to take advantage of the opportunities that climate change presents. The Centre is based at UNE, Armidale, with activities undertaken throughout NSW. The centre has also established extensive national and international collaborative links.

Useful links and articles

Further information is contained on a range of websites...Find out more ...


Most of the information contained in these pages has been developed for

Climate change research priorities for primary industries - discussion paper

authored by:

Helen Fairweatherformer Research Leader, Climate Science and Irrigation Research

Resources Research Branch


With input from: Craig Barton, Jason Crean, Rick Fowler, Brendan George, Philip Gibbs, Roger Hegarty, Andrew Kennedy, Bob Martin, Brad Mullard, John Oliver, Bhupinderpal Singh, Christine Stone, David Wigginton and Fabiano Ximenes.