Hendy Cowan

Hendy Cowan


    Climate conference has spin-off for crops

    9/11/2000 10:10 AM

      Skilful adaptation to risks and uncertainty associated with climate variability is of great economic importance to South-Western Australia, according to Commerce and Trade Minister Hendy Cowan.

      Addressing a major climatic science conference in Perth today, Mr Cowan said that after a bumper $2.6 billion grain harvest last year, agricultural economists estimated this year's poor season would see a drop in market value of around $900 million for the State's grain crops.

      He also said that the sustained dry run in WA’s climate over the past 25 years had forced water managers into investing the equivalent of about $500 million in extra sources for Perth's water supply.

      Mr Cowan was speaking at the opening of IOCI-2000, a fortnight-long series of international scientific conferences in Perth of importance to climate-affected industries and ocean management in Australia and the Indian Ocean Region.

      Today’s opening session was attended by a group of leading national and international climate and ocean scientists who will review the state of knowledge in research associated with the WA Government's Indian Ocean Climate Initiative and related international programs for the Indian Ocean region.

      Mr Cowan said that as scientists developed new skills in predicting climate expectations, based on phenomena such as El Ni�o, managers would be able to adapt their planning to better deal with climate risks and prospects of coming seasons.

      “The stakes are high and even small improvements can be economically valuable,” the Minister said.

      “However, for this region to benefit significantly, specific research is needed into influences on our winter rainfall from the Indian and Southern Oceans and for this reason the Government has given active leadership in the form of a research initiative.”

      In 1997 the Government had established a $300,000 per year program of strategic climate research through the Indian Ocean Climate Initiative.

      Climate research is conducted on a global scale. The Perth conference is reviewing the State's initiative within a gathering of scientists of international eminence in the climatic influence of the Indian and Southern Oceans.

      Media contact: Peter Jackson 9222-9595