Measuring the full impact of climate hits

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A GRDC-funded report that looks at the economic and social impact of climate on different communities has been released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE).

Dr Rohan Nelson, ABARE"s principal natural resources economist and co-author of the report - "Forecasting the regional impact of climate variability on Australian crop farm incomes" - hopes it will allow climate policy advisers to develop guidelines for more timely and better targeted drought assistance.

Dr Nelson says that climate data that has been collected around Australia for many years is not as useful on its own as when put into the context of how rural communities cope with adverse climate conditions.

"We found that communities most affected by variable climate also had the fewest alternative sources of income, increasing their vulnerability.

"With this knowledge, policies can be put in place to improve the resilience of these communities to climate shocks."

The researchers were able to separate the impact of climate variability on farm income from other influences that can be effectively managed by farm operators.

Dr Nelson says that since current drought policy is focused on enhancing the self-reliance of farmers, increasing the diversity of farm income sources could be one of the most effective policy options for reducing the vulnerability of farm households to climate variability.

Electronic copies of the report can be downloaded from www.grdc.com.au/bookshop/free.htm