Climate Change Strategies from a Country on Fire

Three recent events have made Australia a flashpoint for the global discussion around severe weather.

The first: a rash of record temperatures and raging bushfires that has garnered international attention over the last several weeks.

The second: a series of extreme floods that have displaced thousands in eastern Australia.

And the third: the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change met recently in Hobart to vet its fifth major paper, scheduled for release later this year.

The paper will undoubtedly warn us against what our recent experiences have already indicated: that our climate is warming, and that the danger posed to human and animal life is deadly serious.

It’s been nearly 30 years since our world saw a month that was cooler than average. In that time, average temperatures across Australia have uniformly risen—in some places, by more than half a degree centigrade. Our coastlines are confronted by rising sea levels; once-verdant agricultural regions grapple with decreased rainfall and drought.

Climate change is already happening; we are now reeling from its impacts. In recent weeks, it has often seemed as though we are powerless against it.

But we are not. We have at our disposal an array of powerful conservation strategies that will help us cope with a changing climate while we simultaneously reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

One of these strategies is mitigation. We can create offsets, such as those set up by Australia’s groundbreaking carbon pricing system. Monetizing carbon emissions has given us an enormous incentive to reduce the production of greenhouse gases.

This mechanism affects not only major corporations but farmers and Indigenous groups as well. In northern Australia, where the Conservancy has worked with Traditional Owners and the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance on reinstating traditional fire practices that significantly reduce carbon emissions and the danger of dangerous bushfires, Indigenous landholders are earning the first terrestrial carbon credits handed out under the government’s Carbon Farming Initiative.

It’s a creative solution, and one that we prefer because it not only furthers the battle against climate change but also helps Indigenous people and creates ecological benefits for iconic Australian landscapes.

Another strategy for dealing with climate change is adaptation. The Conservancy has long supported and helped Australia’s National Reserve System to create and secure large protected areas across Australia. Protecting vast stretches of land like the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area creates important space for the biodiversity most threatened by climate change to reproduce and thrive and gives us the best chance of protecting native Australian species like the beloved Gouldian Finch and Northern Quoll well into the future.

A third strategy for addressing climate change is resilience. By learning from those communities and habitats that have best weathered the effects of climate change, we can reapply those lessons to better protect weakened or vulnerable communities. For example, we can study and replicate the defenses developed by coastal towns responding to rising oceans in those that have yet to strengthen their coasts.

The Conservancy is a global organization working to apply these strategies across the planet—from the coral reefs of Indonesia to the rainforests of Brazil to the steppes of Mongolia—because only worldwide action can fully address climate change.

But Australia is now suffering the brunt of our changing world—and while we’ve shown inspiring leadership on the issue in passing a nationwide carbon pricing scheme and dedicating national resources to the strategies described above, there’s still more that we can do.

Climate change is quickly becoming the issue of our century, yet few have recognized its urgency and movements to address it have stalled. We hope that you’ll stand with us in calling for stronger action on climate change and growing Australia’s successes against climate change into a global movement for change.

Visit to learn more about how we can conserve Australia’s lands and waters together. You can also sign up today to become a Conservation Champion—your monthly gift will enable The Nature Conservancy to make progress toward a cleaner, healthier planet for our generation and generations still to come.

[Image: Drought in Peak Hill, Australia. Photo credit: Flickr user GrannyBee via Creative Commons.]

The director of The Nature Conservancy’s Australia program, Michael Looker is a trained botanist and one of Australia’s leading scientists. Under his direction, the program has protected 8.9 million acres (3.6 million hectares) of biodiversity rich land in Australia through 27 direct land acquisitions. Before joining the Conservancy in 2005, Michael was director of the Australian nonprofit Trust for Nature, served as a senior lecturer in environmental horticulture at Burnley College at the University of Melbourne, and was superintendent of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. His major areas of interest and research have focused on vegetation management, achieving conservation outcomes at-scale and forging closer links between private and public investment in conservation.

by Michael Looker, The Nature Conservancy


Terry V.
Terry V6 years ago


Mari s
Mari 's6 years ago

Fossil fuels is the problem you can tax all you want your masking a problem only to have it explode in your face. Stop burning coal, oil, and ya ALL cars have to be clean too that's what needs to happen GLOBALLY. Cars soon will drive themselves there is your chance to do the right thing. CLEAN CARS. Invest in science invest in advancing and cut the crap with all this tax talk.

Mari s
Mari 's6 years ago

"Every generation thinks it has the answers, and every generation is humbled by nature." - Phillip Lubin

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Hardik Shah
Hardik Shah6 years ago


Klaus Peters
Klaus Peters6 years ago

Carbon tax does not change anything for the environment, just another tax grab by our government. For our coal powered power plants it is business as usual, except, electricity prices have sky rocketed. Every business big or small is cashing in on it using this tax as an excuse. It is all passed on to the people, business and government are laughing all the way to the bank.
Where does that tax go? We have companies knocking on doors wanting to change old fashioned incandescent bulbs to energy saving Eco bulbs. I had it done 4 months ago, only half of these China made bulbs are still working, once a week another one goes puff. Sure I can replace them with new ones buying a reputable brand which are also made in China. Since our old fashioned bulbs are going to be banned soon I stocked up. I blow an eco bulb I replace it with the old fashion incandescent bulb. But many years ago I bought several eco bulbs for more than $ 15 each (Philips, Made in Holland), Guess what, they are all still working while my new China recent eco bulbs go puff, puff .....
What can I do with these expired bulbs, full of Mercury? Not recycable, our Council will except incandescent bulbs, but not this sh..
The same thing happened with Power down systems that went door to door, I took my entitlement of 4. The first one took the TV out in 2 weeks. another died a month later, the rest I disconnected. This is where the Carbon tax goes, cheap Chinese gifts to justify carbon tax. It all ends up in landfill

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 6 years ago

Sadly extreme weather is happening on all corners of our Planet. It will get worse. Mankind is to blame for much of our earths deterioration. Man is destroying our Forests,depleting our fish stocks and mostly killing all wildlife. Mars is looking pretty good about now!!!

Heather M
Heather Marv6 years ago

As an Australian it grieves me that these wild bush fires have surely caused huge losses. Two fire fighters lost their lives whilst fighting to save the homes/lives of others. They were so young and this is so sad. Also the loss of animal populations and valuable plants etc. Huge fires still burning today and have been for weeks. We must learn ways to stop these fires before they become so out of control. .
I believe the carbon tax is a good idea. it has reduced the use of electricity by ten percent so far.

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

Sure Australia, sell some more coal to China- that will help [raise the temperature].

Brian M.
Past Member 6 years ago

We can no longer sit passively and hope for change, ask for change, or petition to change. The window of our survival has shrunk down to the these next ten years. We have to act up, speak out, march, protest, scream, and do whatever we have to get our leaders to come to their senses and take action to fight climate change. If we don't do it now, then there is no future for any of us.