Chapter 11 – Australia and New Zealand

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CONFIDENTIAL: Do Not Cite – Do Not Quote IPCC WGII Draft for Government Review

Chapter 11 – Australia and New Zealand

Coordinating Lead Authors: Kevin Hennessy (Australia), Blair Fitzharris (New Zealand)

Lead Authors: Bryson C. Bates (Australia), Nick Harvey (Australia), Mark Howden (Australia), Lesley Hughes (Australia), Jim Salinger (New Zealand), Richard Warrick (New Zealand)

Contributing Authors: Susanne Becken (New Zealand), Lynda Chambers (Australia), Tony Coleman (Australia), Matt Dunn (New Zealand), Donna Green (Australia), Roddy Henderson (New Zealand), Alistair Hobday (Australia), Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (Australia), Gavin Kenny (New Zealand), Darren King (New Zealand), Guy Penny (New Zealand), Rosalie Woodruff (Australia)

Review Editors: Michael Coughlan (Australia), Henrik Moller (New Zealand)

Executive Summary 2

11.1 Introduction 3

11.1.1 Summary of knowledge from the Third Assessment Report (TAR) 3

11.1.2 New findings of this Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) 4

11.2 Current sensitivity/vulnerability 4

11.2.1 Climate variability and 20th century trends 4

11.2.2 Human systems: sensitivity/vulnerability to climate and weather 5

11.2.3 Natural systems: sensitivity/vulnerability to climate and weather 6

11.2.4 Sensitivity/vulnerability to other stresses 7

11.2.5 Current adaptation 8

11.3 Assumptions about future trends 10

11.3.1 Climate 10

11.3.2 Population, energy and agriculture 13

11.4 Key future impacts and vulnerabilities 13

11.4.1 Freshwater resources 13

11.4.2 Natural ecosystems 15

11.4.3 Agriculture 16

11.4.4 Forestry 19

11.4.5 Coasts 20

11.4.6 Fisheries 21

11.4.7 Settlements, industry and societies 22

11.4.8 Indigenous people 23

11.4.9 Tourism and recreation 24

11.4.10 Energy 25

11.4.11 Human Health 25

11.4.12 Synthesis 26

11.5 Adaptation constraints and opportunities 27

11.6 Case studies 28

11.7 Conclusions: implications for sustainable development 31

11.8 Key uncertainties and research priorities 33

References 35

Executive Summary

Literature published since the TAR confirms and extends its main findings: There is more extensive documentation of observed changes to natural systems, major advances in understanding potential future climate changes and impacts, more attention to the role of planned adaptation in reducing vulnerability, and an assessment of key risks and benefits (high confidence) [11.1].

Regional climate change has occurred: Since 1950, there has been 0.3-0.7oC warming, with more heat waves, fewer frosts, more rain in north-west Australia and south-west New Zealand, less rain in southern and eastern Australia and north-eastern New Zealand, an increase in the intensity of Australian droughts and a rise in sea level of about 70 mm [11.2.1].

Australia and New Zealand are already experiencing impacts from recent climate change: These are now evident in increasing stresses on water supply and agriculture, changed natural ecosystems, reduced seasonal snow cover and glacier shrinkage (high confidence) [11.2.1, 11.2.3].

Some adaptation has already occurred in response to observed climate change: Examples come from sectors such as water, natural ecosystems, agriculture, horticulture and coasts (high confidence) [11.2.5]. However, ongoing vulnerability to extreme events is demonstrated by substantial economic losses caused by droughts, floods, fire, tropical cyclones and hail (high confidence) [11.2.2].

The climate of the 21st century is virtually certain to be warmer with changes in extreme events: Heat waves and fires are virtually certain to increase in intensity and frequency (high confidence) [11.3]. Floods, landslides, droughts and storm surges are very likely to become more frequent and intense, and snow and frost are likely to become less frequent (high confidence) [11.3.1]. Large areas of mainland Australia and eastern New Zealand are likely to have less soil moisture, although western New Zealand is likely to receive more rain (medium confidence) [11.3].

Some aspects of climate change are likely to have beneficial effects for particular sub-regions and sectors. Up to about 2050, enhanced growing conditions from higher carbon dioxide concentrations, longer growing seasons and less frost risk are likely for agriculture, horticulture and forestry over much of New Zealand and parts of southern Australia, provided adequate water is available (high confidence) [11.4.3, 11.4.4]. Reduced energy demand is very likely in winter (high confidence) [11.4.10]. Tourism is likely to directly benefit from drier and warmer weather in some areas (medium confidence) [11.4.9]. Flows in New Zealand’s largest rivers are likely to increase, benefiting hydroelectricity generation and irrigation supply (high confidence) [11.4.1, 11.4.10]. These benefits could be enhanced by planned adaptation.

Potential impacts of climate change are likely to be substantial without further adaptation:

  • Ongoing water security problems are very likely to increase by 2030 in southern and eastern Australia, and parts of eastern New Zealand that are distant from major rivers (high confidence) [11.4.1].

  • Ongoing coastal development is very likely to exacerbate risk to lives and property from sea-level rise and storms: Sea-level is virtually certain to rise (high confidence) [11.3]. By 2050, there is very likely to be increasing loss of high-value land, faster road deterioration, degraded beaches and loss of items of cultural significance (very high confidence) [11.4.5, 11.4.7, 11.4.8].

  • The structure, function and species composition of many natural ecosystems are very likely to alter: Impacts are likely to be significant by 2020 and virtually certain to exacerbate existing stresses such as invasive species and habitat loss, increase the probability of species extinctions, degrade many natural systems and cause a reduction in ecosystem services for tourism, fishing, forestry and water supply (very high confidence) [11.4.2].

  • Risks to major infrastructure are likely to increase: By 2030, design criteria for extreme events are very likely to be exceeded more frequently. Risks include failure of floodplain protection and urban drainage/sewerage, increased storm and fire damage, and more heatwaves causing more deaths and more black-outs (high confidence) [11.4.1, 11.4.5, 11.4.7, 11.4.10, 11.4.11].

  • Substantial impacts on agriculture and forestry are very likely by 2050: Production is likely to be reduced over much of southern and eastern Australia and parts of eastern New Zealand due to increased drought and fire (high confidence) [11.4.3, 11.4.4]. However, regional food security is very likely to remain robust due to large surpluses presently exported (high confidence) [11.7]

Vulnerability is likely to increase in many sectors, but this depends on adaptive capacity:

  • Most human systems have considerable adaptive capacity: The region has well developed economies, extensive scientific and technical capabilities, disaster mitigation strategies, and biosecurity measures. However, there are likely to be considerable cost and institutional constraints to implementation of adaptation options (high confidence) [11.5]. Some Indigenous communities have low adaptive capacity (medium confidence) [11.4.8]. Water security and coastal communities are the most vulnerable sectors (high confidence) [11.7].

  • Natural systems have limited adaptive capacity: Projected rates of climate change are very likely to exceed rates of evolutionary adaptation in many species (high confidence) [11.5]. Habitat loss and fragmentation are very likely to limit species migration in response to shifting climatic zones (high confidence) [11.2.5, 11.5].

  • Vulnerability is likely to rise due to an increase in extreme events: Economic damage from extreme weather is very likely to increase and provide major challenges for adaptation (high confidence) [11.5]

  • Vulnerability is likely to be high by 2050 in a few identified hotspots, some of which contain World Heritage sites: In Australia, these include the Great Barrier Reef, eastern Queensland, the south-west, Murray-Darling Basin, the alps and Kakadu wetlands; in New Zealand, these include the Bay of Plenty, Northland, eastern regions and the Southern Alps (medium confidence) [11.7].

11.1 Introduction

The region is defined here as the lands and territories of Australia and New Zealand. It includes their outlying tropical, mid-latitude and sub-Antarctic islands and the waters of their Exclusive Economic Zones. New Zealand’s population was 4.1 million in 2005, growing at 1% per year (Statistics New Zealand, 2005a). Australia’s population was 20.1 million in 2004, growing at 0.9% per year (ABS, 2005a). Many of the social, cultural and economic aspects of the two countries are comparable. Both countries are relatively wealthy, and have export-based economies largely dependent on natural resources, agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism. Many of these are climatically sensitive.

11.1.1 Summary of knowledge from the Third Assessment Report (TAR)

In the IPCC TAR (Pittock and Wratt, 2001), the following impacts were assessed as important:

  • Water resources are likely to become increasingly stressed in some areas of both countries, with rising competition for water supply;

  • Warming is likely to threaten the survival of species in some natural ecosystems notably in alpine regions, south-western Australia, coral reefs and freshwater wetlands;

  • Regional reductions in rainfall in southwest and inland Australia and eastern New Zealand are likely to make agricultural activities particularly vulnerable;

  • Increasing coastal vulnerability to tropical cyclones, storm surges and sea-level rise;

  • Increased frequency of high-intensity rainfall is likely to increase flood damage;

  • The spread of some disease vectors is very likely, thereby increasing the potential for disease outbreaks, despite existing biosecurity and health services.

The overall conclusions of the TAR were that: (1) climate change is likely to add to existing stresses to conservation of terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity and to achieving sustainable land use; and (2) Australia has significant vulnerability to climate change expected over the next 100 years, whereas New Zealand appears more resilient, except in a few eastern areas.

11.1.2 New findings of this Fourth Assessment Report (AR4)
Scientific literature published since 2001 supports the TAR findings. Key differences from the TAR include (1) more extensive documentation of observed changes to natural systems consistent with global warming, (2) significant advances in understanding potential future impacts on water, natural ecosystems, agriculture, coasts, Indigenous people and health, (3) more attention to the role of adaptation, and (4) identification of vulnerability hotspots. Vulnerability is given more attention – it is dependent on the exposure to climate change, the sensitivity of systems to this exposure, and their capacity to adapt (see Introduction Figure I.1).

    1. Current sensitivity/vulnerability

11.2.1 Climate variability and 20th century trends
In this section, climate change is taken to be due to both natural variability and human activities (see Glossary). The relative proportions are unknown unless otherwise stated. The strongest regional driver of climate variability is the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In New Zealand, El Niño brings stronger and cooler south-westerly airflow, with drier conditions in the north-east of the country, and wetter conditions in the south-west (Gordon, 1986; Mullan, 1995). The converse occurs during La Niña. El Niño tends to bring warmer and drier conditions to eastern and south-western Australia, and the converse during La Niña (Power et al., 1998). The positive phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) strengthens the ENSO-rainfall links in New Zealand, and weakens links in Australia (Power et al., 1999; Salinger et al., 2004; Folland et al., 2005).
New Zealand mean air temperatures have risen 1.0°C from 1855-2004, but only 0.4oC since 1950 (NIWA, 2005). Local sea surface temperatures have risen by 0.7°C since 1871 (Folland et al., 2003). From 1951-1996, the number of cold nights and frosts declined by 10-20 days/year (Salinger and Griffiths, 2001). From 1971-2004, tropical cyclones in the southwest Pacific averaged nine/year, with no trend in frequency (Burgess, 2005) or intensity (Diamond, 2006). The frequency and strength of extreme westerly winds have increased significantly in the south, while extreme easterly winds have decreased over land and increased to the south (Salinger et al., 2005a). Relative sea-level rise has averaged 1.6 + 0.2 mm/year since 1900 (Hannah, 2004). Rainfall has increased in the south-west and decreased in the north-east (Salinger and Mullan, 1999) due to changes in circulation linked to the IPO, with extremes showing similar trends (Griffiths, 2006). Pan evaporation has declined significantly at 6 out of 19 sites since the 1970s, with no significant change at the other 13 sites (Roderick and Farquhar, 2005). Snow in the Southern Alps shows no trend since 1930 (Owens and Fitzharris, 2004). The contribution of human activities to New Zealand climate change is unknown.
In Australia, from 1910 to 2004, the average maximum temperature rose 0.6oC and the minimum temperature rose 1.2oC, mostly since 1950 (Nicholls and Collins, 2006). It is very likely that increases in greenhouse gases have significantly contributed to the warming since 1950 (Karoly and Braganza, 2005b; Karoly and Braganza, 2005a). From 1957 to 2004, the Australian-average shows an increase in hot days (35oC or more) of 0.10 days/year, an increase in hot nights (20oC or more) of 0.18 nights/year, a decrease in cold days (15oC or less) of 0.14 days/year and a decrease in cold nights (5oC or less) of 0.15 nights/year (Nicholls and Collins, 2006). Due to a shift in climate around 1950, the north-western two-thirds of Australia has seen an increase in summer monsoon rainfall, while southern and eastern Australia have become drier (Smith, 2004b). While the causes of decreased rainfall in the east are unknown, the decrease in the southwest is likely due to a combination of increased greenhouse gas concentrations, natural climate variability and land use change, and the increased rainfall in northwest may be due to increased aerosols resulting from human activity, especially in Asia (Nicholls, (submitted)). Droughts have become hotter since about 1973 because temperatures are higher for a given rainfall deficiency (Nicholls, 2004) . From 1950-2005, extreme daily rainfall has increased in north-western and central Australia and over the western tablelands of New South Wales (NSW), but decreased in the southeast, southwest and central east-coast (Gallant et al., 2006). Trends in most extreme events are rising faster than the means or more moderate extreme events (Alexander et al., submitted). South-east Australian snow depths at the start of October have declined 40% in the past 40 years (Nicholls, 2005). Pan evaporation averaged over 60 sites from 1970-2005 showed large interannual variability but no significant trend (Roderick and Farquhar, 2004; Kirono et al., submitted). There is no trend in the frequency of tropical cyclones in the Australian region from 1981-2003, but an increase in intense systems (very low central pressure) (Kuleshov, 2003; Hennessy, 2004). Relative sea-level rise around Australia averaged 1.2 mm/year from 1920 to 2000 (Church et al., 2004).
The offshore islands of Australia and New Zealand have recorded significant warming. The Chatham Islands (44°S 177°W) have warmed 1°C over the past 100 years (Mullan et al., 2005b). Macquarie Island (55°S 159°E) has warmed 0.3oC from 1948-1998 (Tweedie and Bergstrom, 2000), along with increased wind speed, precipitation and evapotranspiration, and decreased air moisture content and sunshine hours since 1950 (Frenot et al., 2005). Campbell Island (53°S 169°E) has warmed by 0.6°C in summer and 0.4°C in winter since the late 1960s. Heard Island (53°S 73°E) shows rapid glacial retreat and reduced area of annual snow cover (Bergstrom, 2003).

11.2.2 Human systems: sensitivity/vulnerability to climate and weather

Extreme events have severe impacts in both countries (examples in Box 11.1). In Australia, around 87% of economic damage due to natural disasters (storms, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, fires and landslides) is caused by weather-related events (BTE, 2001). From 1967 to 1999, these costs averaged US$719 million per year, mostly due to floods, severe storms and tropical cyclones. In New Zealand, floods are the most costly natural disasters apart from earthquakes and droughts, and total flood damage costs averaged about US$85 million per year from 1968-1998 (NZIER, 2004).

Box 11.1 Examples of extreme weather events in Australia and New Zealand*
Droughts: In Australia, the droughts of 1982-1983, 1991-1995 and 2002-2003 cost US$1.7 billion, US$2.8 billion and US$7.6 billion, respectively (Adams et al., 2002; BoM, 2006a). In New Zealand, the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 droughts had agricultural losses of US$800 million (MAF, 1999).

Sydney hailstorm, April 1999: This is the most expensive natural disaster in Australian history, costing US$1.7 billion, of which US$1.3 billion was insured (Schuster et al., 2005).

Eastern Australian heatwave, 1-22 February 2004: About 2/3 of continental Australia recorded maximum temperatures over 39˚C. Temperatures reached 48.5˚C in western New South Wales. The Queensland ambulance service recorded a 53% increase in ambulance call-outs (Steffen et al., 2006).

Canberra fires 2003: Wildfires caused US$261 million damage (Lavorel and Steffen, 2004; IDRO, 2006). About 500 houses were totally destroyed, four people were killed and hundreds injured. Three of the city’s four dams were contaminated for several months by sediment-laden runoff.

Southeast Australian storm, 2 Feb 2005: Strong winds and heavy rain led to insurance claims of almost US$152 million (IDRO, 2006). Transport was severely disrupted and beaches were eroded.

Tropical Cyclone Larry, 20 March 2006: Significant damage or disruption to houses, businesses, industry, utilities, infrastructure (including road, rail and air transport systems, schools, hospitals and communications), crops and state forests, costing US$263 million. Fortunately, the 1.75 m storm surge occurred at low tide (BoM, 2006b; Queensland Government, 2006).

New Zealand floods: The 1968 Wahine storm cost US$188 million, the 1984 Southland floods cost US$80 million, the February 2004 North Island floods cost US$78 million (Insurance Council of New Zealand, 2005). * All costs adjusted to 2002-2006 values
11.2.3 Natural systems: sensitivity/vulnerability to climate and weather

Some species and natural systems in Australia and New Zealand are already showing evidence of recent climate-associated change (Table 11.1). In many cases, the relative contributions of other factors such as changes in fire regimes and land use are not well understood.

Table 11.1: Examples of observed changes in species and natural systems in Australia, New Zealand and their sub-Antarctic islands linked to changing climate.

Taxa or System

Observed Change



Rainforest and woodland ecotones

Expansion of rainforest at expense of eucalypt forest and grasslands in Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales, linked to changes in rainfall and fire regimes

(Bowman et al., 2001; Hughes, 2003)

Sub-alpine vegetation

Encroachment by snow gums into sub-alpine grasslands at higher elevations

(Wearne and Morgan, 2001)

Freshwater swamps and floodplains

Saltwater intrusion into freshwater swamps since 1950s in Northern Territory accelerating since 1980s possibly associated with sea level and precipitation changes

(Winn et al., 2006)

Coral reefs

Eight mass bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef since 1979, triggered by unusually high sea surface temperatures, and no serious events known prior to 1979 (see Section 11.6). Most widespread events appear to have occurred in 1998 and 2002, affecting up to 50% of reefs within the GBRMPA.

(Hoegh-Guldberg, 1999; Done et al., 2003; Berkelmans et al., 2004)


Earlier arrival of migratory birds; range shifts and expansions for several species; high sea surface temperatures associated with reduced reproduction in Wedge-tailed Shearwaters

(Smithers et al., 2003; Chambers, 2005; Chambers et al., 2005; Beaumont et al., in press)


Increased penetration of feral mammals into alpine and high sub-alpine areas and prolonged winter presence of macropods

(Green and Pickering, 2002)


Change in genetic constitution of Drosophila, equivalent to a 4 latitude shift (~400 km)

(Umina et al., 2005)

New Zealand


Earlier egg laying in Welcome Swallow

(Evans et al., 2003)

Southern beech

Seed production increase in Nothofagus (1973-2002) along elevational gradient related to warming during flower development

(Richardson et al., 2005)


Westward shift of Chilean jack mackerel in the Pacific and subsequent invasion into New Zealand waters in the mid-1980s associated with increasing El Niño frequency

(Taylor, 2002)


Ice volume decreased from ~100 km3 to 53 km3 over past century. Loss of at least a quarter of glacier mass since 1950. Mass balance of Franz Josef glacier decreased 0.02 ma-1 from 1894-2005

(Clare et al., 2002; Anderson, 2004) (Chinn, 2001)

Sub-Antarctic Islands


Population increases in Black-browed Albatross and King Penguin on Heard Island; population declines on Campbell Island of Rockhopper Penguins, Grey-headed Albatross and Black-browed Albatross related to ocean warming and changed fishing practices

(Waugh et al., 1999; Woehler et al., 2002; Weimerskirch et al., 2003)


Population increases in Fur Seals on Heard Island and Elephant Seals on Campbell Island, linked to changes in food supply, warming, and oceanic circulation; rats moving into upland herbfields and breeding more often on Macquarie Island

(Budd, 2000; Weimerskirch et al., 2003; Frenot et al., 2005)

Plant communities

Plant colonisation of areas exposed by glacial retreat on Heard Island; decline in area of sphagnum moss since 1992 on Macquarie Island associated with drying trend

(Whinam and Copson, 2006)

11.2.4 Sensitivity/vulnerability to other stresses
Human and natural systems are sensitive to a variety of stresses independent of climate and weather. Growing human energy demand has placed stress on power supply infrastructure. In Australia, energy consumption has been growing at 2.5% per year over the past 20 years (PB Associates, in press). Increases in water demand have placed stress on supply capacity for irrigation, cities, industry and environmental flows. Increased demand since the 1980s in New Zealand has been due to agricultural intensification (Woods and Howard-Williams, 2004). The irrigated area of New Zealand has increased by around 55% each decade since the 1960s (Lincoln Environmental, 2000). Per capita daily water consumption is 180-300 litres in New Zealand and 270 litres for Australia (Robb and Bright, 2004). In Australia, dryland salinity, alteration of river flows, over-allocation and inefficient use of water resources, land clearing, intensification of agriculture and fragmentation of ecosystems still pose major stresses (SOE, 2001; Cullen, 2002). From 1985-1996, Australian water demand increased by 65% (NLWRA, 2001). Invasive plant and animal species pose significant environmental problems in both countries particularly for agriculture and forestry (MfE, 2001; SOE, 2001), for example Cryptostegia grandiflora; (Kriticos et al., 2003b; Kriticos et al., 2003a).
11.2.5 Current adaptation

Since current vulnerability is influenced by current adaptation, a summary of current adaptation is given here rather than in Section 11.5 (which looks at future adaptation). Adaptation refers to planned and autonomous (or spontaneous) adjustments in natural or human systems in response to climatic stimuli, which reduce harmful effects or exploit opportunities (see Chapter 17). An example of autonomous adaptation is intensification of grazing in the rangelands of northwest Australia in the last 30 years as graziers have exploited more reliable and better pasture growth, following an increase in monsoon rainfall (Ash et al., 2006). However, there is currently insufficient information to comprehensively quantify this capacity. While planned adaptation usually refers to specific measures or actions, it can also be viewed as a dynamic process that evolves over time, involving five major pre-conditions for encouraging implementation (Figure 11.1). This Section assesses how well Australia and New Zealand are engaged in the adaptation process.

Figure 11.1: Adaptation as a process (Warrick, 2000; MfE, 2004b)
Provision of knowledge, data and tools: Since the TAR, the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology has created a separate strategic fund for Global Change research (FRST, 2005). Operational research and development related to climate impacts on specific sectors have also increased over the last ten years (e.g. agricultural impacts, decision-support systems and extension activities for integration with farmers’ knowledge) (Kenny, 2002; MAF, 2006). One of Australia’s four National Research Priorities is “An Environmentally Sustainable Australia”, which includes “responding to climate change and variability” (DEST, 2004). The Australian Climate Change Science Program and the National Climate Change Adaptation Program are part of this effort (Allen Consulting Group, 2005). All Australian State and Territory governments have greenhouse action plans that include development of knowledge, data and tools.
Risk assessments: A wide range of regional and sectoral risk assessments has been undertaken since 2001 (see Section 11.4). Both countries occasionally produce national reports that synthesize these assessments, and provide a foundation for adaptation (e.g.(MfE, 2001; Warrick et al., 2001; Howden et al., 2003a; Pittock, 2003). Regionally-relevant guidelines are available for use in risk assessments (Wratt et al., 2004; AGO, 2006).

Mainstreaming: Climate change issues are being gradually “mainstreamed” into policies, plans and strategies for development and management. For example, in New Zealand, the Coastal Policy Statement included consideration of sea-level rise (DoC, 1994), the Resource Management (Energy and Climate Change) Amendment Act 2004 made explicit provisions for the effects of climate change, and the Civil Defense and Emergency Management Act 2002 requires regional and local government authorities (LGAs) to plan for future natural hazards. New Zealand farmers, particularly in the east, implemented a range of adaptation measures in response to droughts in the 1980s and 1990s and as a result of the removal of almost all subsidies. Increasing numbers of farmers are focusing on building long-term resilience with a diversity of options (Kenny, 2005; Salinger et al., 2005b). In Australia, climate change is included in several environmentally-focused action plans, including the National Agriculture and Climate Change Action Plan (NRMMC, 2006) and the National Biodiversity and Climate Change Action Plan. A wide range of water adaptation strategies has been implemented or proposed (Table 11.2), including A$2 billion for the National Water Fund from 2004-2009 and A$0.9 billion for drought relief from 2001-2006.
Table 11.2: Examples of government adaptation strategies to cope with water shortages in Australia.






Drought aid payments to rural communities

US$0.7 billion from 2001-2006

(Drought Review Panel, 2004; DAFF, 2006b)


National Water Initiative, supported by the Australian Water Fund

US$1.5 billion from 2004-2009

(DAFF, 2006a)


Murray-Darling Basin Water Agreement

US$0.4 billion from 2004-2009

(DPMC, 2004)


Melbourne’s Eastern Treatment Plant to supply recycled water

US$225 million by 2012

(Melbourne Water, 2006)


New pipeline from Bendigo to Ballarat, water recycling, interconnections between dams, reduce channel seepage and conservation measures

US$153 million by 2015

(Premier of Victoria, 2006)


Wimmera Mallee pipeline replacing open irrigation channels

US$376 million by 2010

(Vic DSE, 2006)


NSW Water Savings Fund supports projects which save or recycle water in Sydney.

US$98 million for Round 3, plus more than US$25 million to 68 other projects.

(DEUS, 2006)


Qld Water Plan 2005-2010 to improve water use efficiency and quality, recycling, drought preparedness, new water pricing

Includes US$182 million for water infrastructure in SE Qld, and US$302 million to other infrastructure programs.

(Queensland Government, 2005)

South Australia

Water Proofing Adelaide project is a blueprint for the management, conservation and development of Adelaide’s water resources to 2025.


(Government of South Australia, 2005)


State Water Strategy (2003) and State Water Plan (proposed).

WA Water Corporation doubled supply from 1996-2006

US$500 million spent by WA Water Corporation from 1996-2006, plus US$290 million for the Perth desalination plant

(Government of WA, 2003; Government of WA, 2006; Water Corporation, 2006)

Climate change is listed as a Key Threatening Process under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Climate change has been integrated into several State-based and regional strategies, such as the Queensland Coastal Management Plan, the Great Barrier Reef Climate Change Action Plan, the Victorian Sustainable Water Strategy and South Australia's Natural Resources Management Plan. The Wild Country (The Wilderness Society), NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act, Gondwana Links (Western Australia) and Nature Links (South Australia) initiatives promote connectivity of landscapes and resilience of natural systems in recognition that ecosystems will need to migrate as climate zones shift. Guidelines prepared for the coastal and ocean engineering profession for implementing coastal management strategies include consideration of climate change (Engineers Australia, 2004).

Evaluation and monitoring: The New Zealand Climate Committee monitors the present state of knowledge of climate science, climate variability, and current and future climate impacts, and makes recommendations about research and monitoring needs, priorities and gaps regarding climate, its impacts, and the application of climate information (RSNZ, 2002). In Australia, the AGO monitors and evaluates performance against objectives in the National Greenhouse Strategy. The AGO and State and Territory governments commission research to assess current climate change knowledge, gaps and priorities for research on risk and vulnerability (Allen Consulting Group, 2005). The National Land and Water Resources Audit (NLWRA, 2001) and State of the Environment Report (SOE, 2001) also have climate change elements.
Awareness raising and capacity building: In New Zealand, efforts are underway for transferring scientific information to LGAs and facilitating exchange of information between LGAs. The New Zealand Climate Change Office has held a number of workshops for LGAs (MfE, 2002; MfE, 2004b), supported case studies of “best practice” adaptation by LGAs, and commissioned guidance documents for LGAs on integrating climate change adaptation into their functions (MfE, 2004c). The AGO, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and most Australian State and Territory governments have developed products and services for raising awareness about climate change. Government-supported capacity-building programs, such as the Australian National Landcare Program, enhance resilience to climate change via mechanisms such as whole-farm planning.
In general, the domestic focus of both countries has, until recently, been on mitigation, while adaptation has had a secondary role in terms of policy effort and government funding for implementation (MfE, 2004b). However, since the TAR, recognition of the necessity for adaptation has grown and concrete steps have been taken to bolster the pre-conditions for adaptation, as discussed above. Initiatives such as the Australia-New Zealand Bilateral Climate Change Partnership (AGO, 2003) explicitly include adaptation. Overall, in comparison to most other countries, New Zealand and Australia have a relatively high and growing level of adaptive capacity, which has potential to be implemented systematically on a wide scale.

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