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Climate Change and Greenhouse Issues

Australian sheep producers have always dealt with a variable climate and its associated droughts and floods. Climate change scenarios suggest this variability will increase.

In the sheep industry, climate change is likely to impact on:

  • pasture and fodder crops
  • water resources
  • wool production and quality
  • animal health and reproduction
  • land stewardship
  • competition from other agricultural activities
  • national and international markets.

For example, farm inputs costs will rise on the back of the Australian Government Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), despite agriculture being excluded from the scheme until at least 2015. Major meat processors will find themselves needing to buy ‘pollution permits’ for each tonne of greenhouse gas they contribute to the atmosphere.

Increased heat stress associated with climate change could reduce the reproductive performance of sheep in areas where temperature and humidity increases.

Vegetable fault and dust contamination in wool could increase where pasture composition changes, particularly in regard to weed content and bare ground.

Respond to the challenge

As custodians of large tracts of Australia’s land mass, sheep producers have worked for generations to manage the impacts of climatic variation on our capacity to sustainably produce affordable food and fibre for the world.

The industry now faces not only the continued challenge of managing production of food and fibre, given the variability in climatic conditions, but the new challenges created by Government and the community’s desire to see reductions in carbon emissions.

These pages on Climate Change and Greenhouse Issues provide some of the science, knowledge and capacity to assist sheep producers to respond to these challenges.

Signposts Signposts


The Potential Impact of Climate Change on Woolgrowing in 2029: a report commissioned by AWI that details the effects of climate change on the wool industry. Click on the following link and scroll down to find a downloadable PDF file (1.1 mb): The potential impact of climate change on woolgrowing in 2029

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and carbon trading: visit


 Managing Climate Variability R & D Program: This program aims to help primary producers and natural resource managers manage the risks and exploit the opportunities resulting from Australia’s variable and changing climate by:

  • improving the accuracy of forecasting on time frames of value for primary producers
  • providing climate products, services and tools for managing climate risk
  • increasing primary producers’ knowledge and confidence to adopt climate risk management strategies.
The program website contains publications, information on current research and producer case studies. Visit:

The MCV R & D program has also developed the Climate Kelpie website which connects farmers and their advisors to tools and information about climate including information on what drives weather systems, decision support tools, projected changes to climate and variability in your region. See:

Australian Farm Institute: the Australian Farm Institute is an independent organisation that conducts research into farm policy issues to benefit Australian agriculture. The Institute has released four publications on different aspects of emissions trading and its potential impact on agriculture. You can purchase these publications online by visiting: