Climate adaptation in Australia's resource-extraction industries: ready or not?
Hodgkinson, JH and Hobday, AJ and Pinkard, EA, Climate adaptation in Australia's resource-extraction industries: ready or not?, Regional Environmental Change, 14, (4) pp. 1663-1678. ISSN 1436-3798 (2014) [Refereed Article]
Australian resource-extraction industries - mining, fisheries and forestry - operate year-round in the natural environment with all three exposed to climate extremes and to long-term climatic change. However, the industries differ in terms of size, ownership and mobility. Although mining companies are 'mobile,' a commitment to a mine site makes them immobile at a location dictated by the presence of a mineral; forestry of natural and managed trees takes place in a specifically selected location that can be changed given a reasonably long time-frame and high financial investment; fishing is the last of the major hunting industries, and despite operating from fixed ports, fishers chase fish across the ocean. All three industries as employers and product providers seek a sustainable future under a changing climate but are subject to environmental variability that impacts on their activities. As each industry has historically dealt with and survived major climate impacts, they typically consider themselves to be resilient, although we illustrate in several case studies that recent climate variability significantly impacts productivity and current resilience is limited. Projected climate change and variability are likely to exacerbate impacts on these industries through new or intensified hazards. Although each industry performs risk management controls to minimize climate-related impacts, a new approach incorporating future climate projections in addition to historical experiences would better prepare each to reduce vulnerability to changing climate. We find that wholesale transformation may not be appropriate or necessary at this time for these industries, and in most cases anticipatory, incremental adaptation should be encouraged, while larger-scale changes are considered in the longer term. Additionally, to overcome some of the barriers and promote the drivers of adaptation, we suggest that a model of adaptive governance coupled with greater use of climate champions may be the most effective method for improving adaptation uptake in these industries.