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Adapting to climate change means changing the way we live so we can prepare for, and build resilience to, the impacts of climate change.
Adaptation helps individuals, communities, businesses, industry and governments to understand and manage the impacts of the changing climate that are already occurring and are expected to occur in the coming decades.
As we make considered changes, we can also take advantage of opportunities to transition and build resilience.
Climate change impacts are here and now. Australia’s climate has already warmed on average by 1.44°C since 1910, with most of the warming recorded since 1950. Australia’s warmest year on record was 2019, and in 2020 Tasmania had warmer nights than usual for much of the year, especially in the North-East. 2019 was also Australia’s driest year on record, with annual rainfall 40 per cent below average, and much of Australia affected by drought.
In the last five years, Tasmania has experienced two significant bushfire events, a record marine heatwave off the East Coast, prolonged dry periods in 2015-16 and 2019-20, and the worst statewide flooding seen in 40 years.
These events have had an environmental, economic and social impact on governments, businesses, communities and households.
The Climate Futures for Tasmania (CFT) project is the most important source of downscaled climate change projections for Tasmania. Downscaling is a process where coarse-resolution Global Climate Model outputs are translated into finer-resolution climate information so that they better account for regional climatic differences, such as local topography.
Through CFT modelling, we can better understand how the Tasmanian climate is likely to change between now and 2100. In addition to general data, there is specific information for agriculture, coastal impacts, and water and catchments. This modelling projects significant changes in rainfall patterns; a rise in annual temperatures and more hot summer days; longer fire seasons and more days at the highest range of fire danger; sea level rise; ocean acidification; and increased East Coast water temperatures. Extreme weather events are projected to increase in frequency and intensity over time.
Tasmania is also facing growing transitionary impacts and opportunities as the world moves to a low carbon economy (eg changing consumer preferences or regulatory intervention).
Projected changes to Tasmania’s climate will impact our businesses and industries in a variety of ways and it is important to prepare for these impacts.
As the world transitions to a low carbon economy and more sustainable business practices, there is an opportunity for Tasmanian businesses and industries to capitalise on our State’s advantages, such as our renewable energy and world-class climate science.
Some of our key growth sectors, such as tourism, agriculture, and aquaculture, are also vulnerable to the projected impacts of a changing climate. These sectors need tailored information to minimise climate risks and make informed decisions.
In comparison to other parts of Australia, Tasmania’s temperate climate may also provide some comparative economic advantage for some industries and opportunities for new industries.
Climate change will affect the health of Tasmanians. The greatest threats are expected to come from extreme weather events (such as heatwaves), rising temperatures and the changing variability of rainfall.
Building community resilience to population health risks is important in a changing climate.
This includes protection of vulnerable members of the community. Contributing factors to vulnerability include poor health, age, limited mobility, access to transport and dependence on others for care. Some communities may also be vulnerable due to physical location, for example near the coast, or in flood or bushfire-prone areas.
The projected impacts of climate change may also change the way our workplaces and business systems operate as we adapt to a changing environment. It is important for Tasmania to continue investing in skills to support workforce development across industry sectors and regional communities. This will enable us to maximise our economic advantage and prepare for a changing climate.
State and local governments play a key role to ensure Tasmanian communities are able to adapt to climate change.
Key considerations for governments include: development and infrastructure; land use planning; water resources management; emergency management; and community services.