Climate change to worsen disadvantage in rural and regional communities – report

The Climate Council this week released a new report which reveals that climate change is likely to worsen the systemic disadvantages suffered by rural and regional communities, and further widen the gap between rural and urban areas.

The report, On the Frontline: Climate Change and Rural Communities, finds the increase in extreme weather events is disproportionately affecting those in rural areas, with serious social, health and economic impacts.

Key findings show that climate change is worsening extreme weather events such as bushfire and drought and rural and regional communities will continue to be disproportionately affected.  Many agricultural businesses surveyed for the report had used financial reserves/increased debt in response to extreme weather events. Faltering productivity gains and the resilience of some rural industries is under threat.

The report says that strong climate action is required to protect rural and regional communities from the worsening impacts.

While rural and regional communities are on the frontline of climate change impacts, the report observes that tackling climate change also provides these communities with many opportunities.  Renewable energy projects bring jobs and investment into rural and regional communities. Delivering half of our electricity from renewable sources by 2050 would create more than 28,000 jobs. Farmers can build the climate resilience of their farms by adding additional revenue streams, such as by hosting wind turbines and other renewable energy projects. Community funds and additional rate revenue for rural and regional areas from renewable energy can be used to improve public services such as schools and local infrastructure.

The recent ministerial directive by the new Minister for Science and Industry, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, asking the CSIRO Board to re-focus the work of the organisation on climate science as a core component of its work, is a welcome decision.  Mr Hunt told the ABC World Today: "It's a new government and we're laying out a direction that climate science matters – and that's both the science relating to the long term trend, the long term influences, where the impacts are, as well as mitigation."