Climate change will widen the gap between rural and urban Australia, says report

Wednesday, 10 August, 2016

Climate change will widen the gap between rural and urban Australia, says report

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, according to a report by the Climate Council.

‘On the Frontline: Climate Change & Rural Communities’ finds the increase in extreme weather events is disproportionately affecting those in rural areas, with many agricultural businesses taking on increased debt in response to these events. And while many businesses have made changes to adapt to the changing climate, such as changing sowing and harvesting dates or switching to new breeds of livestock, there is a limit to how much farmers can adapt.

Report co-author Dr Lauren Rickards said the risks posed by climate change threaten to exacerbate many of the social, health and economic challenges already being experienced by those in regional areas.

“In addition to affecting agricultural production, climate change affects rural communities in many far-reaching ways, increasing the cost of essential goods and services, devaluing community assets and degrading places we love,” she said. “Rural and regional communities are often poorly equipped to deal with the health impacts of higher temperatures.

“While all Australians will be affected by these challenges, those living in rural communities will be worst affected.”

The silver lining, according to the Climate Council’s Professor Lesley Hughes, is that tackling climate change “provides an unrivalled opportunity to attract jobs and investment back to these communities”, with rural areas currently receiving about 30–40% of investment in renewables in Australia — or 1–2 billion dollars per year.

Many farmers are adding additional revenue streams to their properties from renewable energy, with about $20.6 million paid annually in lease payments to farmers and landholders hosting wind turbines. Renewable energy can also attract jobs back into rural and regional areas, as large-scale renewables projects tend to be located outside urban areas. Finally, renewable energy can reduce electricity costs for rural and remote communities, who traditionally pay much higher prices than their urban counterparts.

Climate Council Chief Councillor Tim Flannery concludes that strong climate action is required to protect those living in rural and regional areas from worsening impacts.

“Rural and regional communities are living on the frontline of impacts of worsening extreme weather, but they are also on the frontline of the solutions,” he said.

“People in the bush look after themselves and each other and they’re already getting on with the job in adapting farming practices and implementing solutions for climate change.

“Now it’s time for our political leaders to match their effort and take the action we need to tackle climate change.”

The report can be found at

Image credit: © Pavlova

Related Articles

Better data is the key to meeting ESG standards

As we strive for a future marked by accountability, the selection of data partners will...

Can I see your (product) passport please!

Digital Product Passports that allow consumers to read up on the product's sustainability...

How the Melbourne Cup joined the circular economy

The 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival has provided the opportunity for two organisations to partner to...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd