Climate Change and Renewable Energy

Climate Change is a shared responsibility – the challenges of feeding, clothing and powering a  hungry nation in a warming world  

The price, quality and seasonality of Australia’s food is increasingly being affected by climate change, with Australia’s future food security becoming an increasing concern.

Australia’s food supply chain is highly a t risk to disruption from extreme weather, driven by climate change, with farmers already struggling to cope with more frequent and intense droughts and more intense rainfall that sometimes lead to floods.

Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of hot days and heatwaves in Australia and also increasing the likelihood of extreme fires.

Water scarcity, heat stress and increased climatic variability in our most productive agricultural regions and they are key risks for our food security, economy and the dependent industries and communities.

More frequent and intense heatwaves and extreme weather have already affected food prices in Australia, as climate change has been increasing the variability of crop yields, sometimes pushing up food prices.

Food prices during the 2005- 2007 drought increased at twice the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with fresh fruit and vegetables the worst affected, increasing 43% and 33% respectively. Also a reduction of livestock numbers during droughts increases meat prices. Cyclone Larry destroyed 90% of the Queensland banana crop in 2006, decreasing supply for nine months and increasing prices by 500%.

Harsher climatic conditions will increase use of more heat-tolerant breeds in beef production, some have lower meat quality. Heat stress reduces milk yield by 10-25% and up to 40% in extreme heatwave conditions.

The yields of many important crop species such as wheat, rice, cotton and maize are reduced at temperatures more than 30°C.

By 2061, Australia’s domestic demand for food could be 90% above 2000 levels, with a similar increase in export demand.

Cotton farmers and adjusting to climate challenges

Cotton growers, like other farmers, depend on the natural environment and weather to produce their crop

Cotton is a perennial plant grown as an annual, in regions that experience climate variability driven by El Nino or La Nina cycles

The Australian cotton industry has adapted considerably to take advantage of new opportunities and Australian growers have already developed highly efficient and flexible farming systems to manage their crops in variable climatic conditions.

The cotton industry is connected to the latest information regarding changes in climate, and the best ways to manage these changes.

The Australian cotton industry is a fairly minor contributor to agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, representing less than one third of one per cent of Australian agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions

Cotton growing has a better-than-neutral carbon footprint. Net on-farm emissions of greenhouse gases on cotton farms are negative because the cotton plants store more carbon than is released from production during crop growth

The main sources of emissions on an irrigated cotton farm are man made fertilisers, electricity and fossil fuels used to power irrigation pumps

On-farm case studies have indicated that using minimum tillage has reduced energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions by 12% since 2000


Australian cotton farmers continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the land’s ability to store more carbon through practices and innovations including:

  • Efficiency of major inputs used in cotton growing such as energy and nitrogen by optimising irrigation pump performance and  using fuel-efficient farm machinery and using alternative sources of nitrogen, e.g. using legume crop rotations, which fix nitrogen in the soil
  • Improving soil health by using controlled traffic farming and minimum-tillage systems that improve soil structure and fertility
  • Using renewable and alternative energy sources such as solar panels to power irrigation pumps, and alternative fuel sources like biofuels.
  • Increasing carbon sequestering by managing areas of native vegetation and riparian areas on farm, which are carbon stores, as plants take carbon from the atmosphere when they photosynthesise.
  • CottonInfo, and the myBMP environmental management programs aim to improve cotton farmers ability to reduce their impact on the environment through considering energy and input efficiency, natural resources and soil health.
  • Cotton growers also have a carbon footprint calculator which they can use to reduce their carbon impact. There are also a range of computer based programs which help to reduce the level of inputs, further reducing environmental adversity.
  • Australia’s cotton industry has adopted a very high level of research that has been funded by cotton growers and the Australian government, through the Cotton Research and Development Corporation. The cotton research program has made significant improvements in farming, water use efficiency, level of chemical use, soil health and attracting, training and retaining the workforce, as well as improving quality and yield of cotton produced.

    Methods of reducing the effects of climate change

    How does Roundup Ready Flex reduce climate change?

    Roundup Ready Flex (RURF) is a genetically modified cotton crop that contains a genetically designed protein called CP4, which allows cotton plants to tolerate applications of glyphosate. The copies of the CP4 EPSPS gene mean the cotton can tolerate glyphosate spraying during squaring, flowering and boll filling. This allows the crop to be sprayed with a non-selective spray without affecting the cotton. The weeds are controlled, leaving the cotton with less competition and this increases amount of water, nutrients and sunlight which is available for cotton plants which remain. This increases yield of cotton and may also improve quality of the cotton harvested.

    By using RURF, the amount of chemicals being sprayed will be dramatically reduced, this lowers input costs. Using RURF increases profits and ability to stay financial in challenging climatic conditions.

  • mrr

    How conservation farming reduces the effects of climate change

    The main limiting factor for climate change is that there has been less rainfall and therefore less soil moisture for crop growth and development.

    Methods of conservation farming which adapt to the challenges of climate are:-

  •  Minimum tillage- direct drills or air seeders disturb the soil less, leading to lower evaporation from the soil, causing more moisture to stay in the soil.

  • rrPress wheels- push the Press wheels closer to the soil, increasing germination rates and also a furrow is created above the seed which encourages water to be directed to the seed and not runoff elsewhere.
  • Stubble mulching- slashes the stubble which reduces evaporation from harvested crops, as the soil is cooler and the water is trapped in the soil by the mulch.

Cotton farmers and the extended cotton industry have made significant improvements in how efficiently they use precious resources like water and soil, while maintaining and lessening environmental impacts. This has been achieved with financial support from government agencies.

It is now up to us, the members of the community to be more comfortable with cotton as an environmentally friendly, ethically produced product. The best way that we can support the cotton industry in their efforts to reduce environmental impacts is by purchasing Australian Cotton products.

Other ways we can reduce climate change are:-

  • Recycle- waste and clothing
  • Reduce- level of products we purchase and the amount of packaging
  • Reduce- Electricity, fuel and water used.
  • Buy more environmentally friendly products.

All levels of our community from individuals, to industry like farming and governments have a responsibility to reduce our negative impacts on our environment to improve climatic conditions.

Cotton and Climate Change Pdf


 Powering a hungry nation with renewable energy

Recently there has been increased attention on the issue of energy security. There are a number of concerns, such as:

  • Oil and other fossil fuel depletion
  • Reliance on foreign sources of energy
  • Environmental issues, mostly climate change
  • Efficiency and costs of renewable energy sources and development ofother alternative energy sources
  • Renewable sources of energy have the potential to provide the world with an alternative electricity supply. Technology progress and improved costing, more affordable technologies, such as solar photovoltaics and onshore wind can help renewable energy to become a financially viable option for consumers.
  • Currently 86% of Australia’s energy is generated by fossil fuels.
  • Renewable energy make up the remaining 14% of Australia’s electricity.
  • Hydropower, is the largest source of renewable electricity in Australia, contributing 60% of renewable electricity.
  • Wind, bioenergy and rooftop solar make up the other 7% and this is increasing.
  • Wind and solar power are intermittent energy sources, as they rely on natural sources and can’t make consistent baseload power.
  • Wind and solar could contribute more to electricity consumed if it could be stored for times when the sun isn’t shining and wind isn’t blowing, but storage technologies are still a while off being a viable commercial solution.


In the future, governments and improved battery technology might make renewable energy on a large scale more reliable and affordable

Australian’s all use a lot of energy. The manufacturing sector is the largest user of both electricity and gas (27%), with households following closely behind, consuming around a quarter of all energy in Australia. Transport (15%) and mining (13%) are also big users of energy.

The Clean Energy Australia Report 2015 main findings were as follows:

  • Renewable energy provided 14.6% of Australia’s electricity in 2015, enough power for approximately 6.7 million homes. This was up on the 13.5% of electricity in 2014.
  • Power generation from Australia’s hydro plants was less than normal years due to low rainfall, but wind and solar generation increased by just over 20% each to compensate for the drop in hydro power.
  • Five new large wind farms and eight solar farms were completed in 2015. Two of the three largest solar plants in the country, at Nyngan and Broken Hill became operational during 2015, while the Moree Solar Farm officially launched in the early part of 2016. These receive financial assistance from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
  • More than 8000 megawatts (MW) of wind power and 2500 MW of solar power projects are either under construction or have planning approval.
  • Investment in major projects was $1.2 billion for 2015 and almost all of these received support either from ARENA or state-based renewable energy programs.


  • The future of renewable energy if research and investment is adequate could be very productive for supplying adequate energy for Australia’s long term needs.
  • Watch the youtube below to find out more about the exciting future of Australia’s energy supplies.

How to reduce energy use in cotton farming

By 2050, the population will have expected to reach 9 billion people. Energy is one of the fastest growing costs for cotton growers, especially with diesel and electricity which are major costs for growing cotton.

Energy use is described by the total energy used on farms, then it’s compared to the amount of cotton production on the farm. Irrigation is a major consumer of energy in the form of electricity on cotton farms. Forty-five percent of irrigation comes from rivers that’s close to farms and needs pumping. Energy is one of the fastest growing costs for cotton production. Farmers have experienced significant price rises with electricity costs. To control costs farmers should do a pump test to see if the pumps are operating properly by recording the energy usage. Cotton farmers can also use more efficient machinery, like tractors to reduce fuel costs and regular maintenance also improves machinery fuel efficiency


How Cotton Farmers Can Use Renewable Energy

By Andrew

Renewable energy in cotton. Why is it  important?

Cotton growers have turned to renewable energy such as solar energy, bio-fuels and hydroelectricity to reduce energy consumption. This helps lower input costs and also has less negative impacts on the environment

Solar Energy in cotton

Solar energy is made using the heat and sunlight from the sun. This type of energy is largely used in cotton production to provide power from solar panels to pumps used for irrigation.


Bio-fuels in cotton

Bio-fuels are a type of fuel which is obtained immediately from living matter, e.g. ethanol is made from canola oil. Bio-fuels are used to run equipment on the farms, replacing other fossil fuels such as diesel and this is helpful as they create less greenhouse gases.


Hydroelectricity in cotton

Hydroelectricity is a form of electricity that is created using falling or flowing water. Even though hydroelectricity isn’t used directly in cotton production, growers can choose to use green electricity (which is more environmentally friendly) when paying their electricity bills, however it does cost more than ordinary electricity.


PowerPoint- How to reduce energy use in cotton farming.