National Drought Summit reform includes climate change

A picture of the Coonamble drought. Photo: Nevile Owen.
A picture of the Coonamble drought. Photo: Nevile Owen.

Drought was on the political agenda last month when the National Drought Summit was held to focus on current support available and gaps that need addressing.

In a statement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison together with Premiers and Chief Ministers committed to various drought reform principles, including climate change.

One of those principles was ‘the importance of maintaining and supporting the natural resource base during drought and climate change’.

Another was Government farm business support assisting farm businesses plan and prepare for the future, with support based on a willingness by those businesses to prepare for the impacts of drought and climate change.

Last week Climate Councillor Professor Will Steffen spoke to the Western Magazine after a report, titled ‘Deluge and Drought: Australia’s Water Security in a Changing Climate’, revealed severe droughts were becoming more frequent due to climate change.

“There’s got to be short-term measures to deal with drought but you will never solve the problem of drought getting worse unless you deal with climate change,” Professor Steffen said.

“The very best thing we can do is get action on climate change. Get our own emissions down as soon as possible,” he said.

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The Western Magazine sent through questions to the Joint Agency Drought Taskforce asking for the Government's response to climate change having an impact on the severity of droughts.

While the Joint Agency Taskforce didn’t directly respond to the question about climate change having an impact on droughts, a spokesperson did say the government was “aware of the impact of climate and weather events on agricultural productivity, and understands the need to manage risks associated with an increasingly variable climate.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: File.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: File.

Professor Steffen said the best thing we can do for action on climate change was to get our emissions down as soon as possible.

“With the momentum of past emissions we can’t stop these trends, they’ll continue for a couple of decades. So you’re looking at continuing drier than normal conditions in southern Australia out to about 2040 or so,” Professor Steffen said.

The Joint Agency Taskforce was asked if they plan to get Australia's emissions down.

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The spokesperson said the government has a comprehensive set of policies to meet their 2030 emissions reduction target.

“The Emissions Reduction Fund is the centrepiece of our response,” the Joint Agency Taskforce spokesperson said.

“Its main purpose is bringing emissions down, but it also helps farmers and landholders tap into new income streams and improve the productivity of their land.”