Hilltops hosts virtual meeting on tackling climate change

Prof Mark Howden.
Prof Mark Howden.

We can't put our heads in the sand and hope it will go away.

Peter Holding

There are opportunities for Young farmers if Australia get's it act together on greenhouse emissions, attendees of the Hilltops Council hosted online forum on climate change were told on Wednesday.

Speaking at the forum Professor Mark Howden from the Australian National University outlined the importance of how we respond to climate change.

Speakers included Professor Howden, director of the Climate Change Institute at ANU, Dr Lynette Bettio, a climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, and Michael Gooden, from the Riverina Local Land Services.

More than 100 people attended the forum online and at various council chambers in the region.

Prof Howden described the forum as "great way to engage in a low carbon footprint manner".

Replying to a question during the Q and A session from Barb Johnson of Bribbaree, Professor Howden said he didn't like to talk "climate emergency".

Ms Johnson asked if a climate emergency should be declared.

Prof Howden said his rationale behind not using the term is that it can "dis-empower people".

"For me, it would be politically really hard for the Federal government to sign on to," he said of the term.

However, he said "There is no escape globally or regionally," from climate change.

While droughts are generally getting worse Prof Howden told attendees that many areas were also experiencing wetter conditions and increased variability in temperatures.

"We've still got variability, climate change doesn't remove variability but it does increase variability," he said.

"The important message is it is not just the averages that are changing, it is the extremes," he said.

And on rainfall Prof Howden said "on an average annual basis the trends seem to be downwards".

"In areas where total rainfall hasn't dropped we've seen a drop in effective rainfall," he said.

This he said is having an impact on productivity of up to 25 per cent in areas in western NSW.

"There are opportunities if we get our act together on greenhouse emissions.

"In among the doom and gloom, adaptation is a good news story.

"Accepting climate change and starting to manage it actually makes you happier if you're a farmer," he said.