Executive Summary - Protect Our Winters Australia

Executive

Summary

Executive Summary

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This report summarises a broad expanse of literature about current and projected climate change impacts on the Australian Alps and presents new modelling of climate change impacts on the Australian ski industry (SkiSim2 projections). The report highlights a cascading series of interconnected impacts across alpine tourism, regional communities, hydroelectricity, high country water flows to the Murray-Darling Basin, carbon sequestration, high country ecosystems, and First Nations and makes recommendations to respond to these impacts. The Australian Alps are likely to undergo significant transformation due to climate change. Managing this transformation is inherently normative, as adaptation will require trade-offs between social, economic, and ecosystem values.

Key questions that need to be asked are “what does a desirable future look like, and for whom?”, “how can adaptation be just?”, and “what trade-offs should be made?”. Answering these normative questions requires conversations between communities, First Nations, industry, natural resource managers, and governments. By summarising the impacts of climate change across social, economic, and ecological aspects of the Australian Alps this report seeks to inform these conversations about values, adaptation options, and trade-offs.

Section Contents

  • Introduction
  • Purpose
  • Scope
  • A snapshot of climate change impacts on the Australia Alps
    • Resort Ski Season
    • Hydroelectricity
    • High Country Ecosystems
    • Regional Communities
    • The Murray-Darling Basin
    • First Nations
  • Overarching Findings
  • Key Findings and Recommendations
  • SkiSim2 Ski industry projections
  • Conclusion

Summary

The Australian Alps is significantly transforming due to climate change. The extent of this transformation depends on the success of Australian and global climate mitigation efforts. What the Australian Alps transforms to is partly dependent on how communities, industries, and high-country ecosystems adapt. Lack of leadership on climate change mitigation and adaptation will leave stakeholders to adapt incrementally and autonomously, without coordination or support, and will miss opportunities to direct the transformation of social and ecological systems. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) State of the Climate report emphasizes that globally the cost of climate inaction is higher than the cost of climate action, and this is the case in the Australian Alps.

We conclude that:
a) Climate change impacts are already driving autonomous adaptation measures in the environment and by industries across the Australian
Alps;
b) Some impacts can be mitigated by restoring environmental health of high country ecosystems, including by enhanced programs for control of weeds and feral animals, and peat bog restoration;
c) Many high country species of flora and fauna are at risk of extinction and require consideration of translocation and ex-situ conservation;
d) Climate change is driving expansion of new adaptions in industries, such as development of more mountain biking and pumped storage hydropower facilities, and informed discussion is required to manage environmental and other trade-offs.

The Australian Alps is rapidly changing. Governments, industries, and community groups need to proactively consider a range of adaptation options to understand the risks, minimise the costs, and maximise the benefits from this unwanted transition.

Recommendations

Investment in year-round tourism and diversification of winter tourism should occur. These options need to be balanced with ecological values and the carrying capacity for each needs to be determined.

Extensive collaboration about adaptation options needs to occur between natural resource managers, the alpine resorts, and the community to ensure that ecological trade-offs are acceptable and that adaptation options have the best chance of a sustainable and economically viable outcome.

Further investment in renewable energy for snowmaking operations needs to occur, at a resort and/or state levels.

Download this section

This page is a summary of the ‘Executive Summary’ section from the report Our Changing Snowscapes: Climate Change Impacts and Recommendations for the Australian Alps.

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POW Australia is a non-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers. We are investing on behalf of our community to fight for the places you love and protect our alpine environments. We need your support to keep pushing and protecting winters in Australia.

Protect Our Winters Australia acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land upon which we live, work and play. We pay respects to the Elders, past, present and future, across the many Nations. Their ancestral ties to country have never been extinguished, and sovereignty never ceded.

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