Australian wine industry tackling climate change

August 7, 2013 by Broede Carmody & Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation
Most Australian wine producers surveyed were taking steps to mitigate against climate change, the study found. Credit: Wendy Harman

Wine businesses around the country are taking steps to offset the potential effects of climate change, a study has found.

Associate Professor Jeremy Galbreath, of the Curtin Graduate School of Business, surveyed 532 Australian wine companies in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Participants were asked about their knowledge of and the measures they were taking in order to mitigate the potential impact on their industry.

Dr Galbreath says the study was not aimed at gauging businesses' opinions on climate change, but rather to find out what measures are being undertaken by businesses in various wine regions.

More than half of respondents said they had implemented or were in the process of implementing measures to reduce the number of agrichemicals used in their businesses.

The study also showed that water saving techniques were common practice, with three quarters of respondents in Western Australia saying they were attempting to save water in their vineyards.

Many producers were implementing mitigative measures that would reduce their , such as use of , use of alternative packaging like lightweight glass and PET bottles, reducing refrigeration loads and extra plantings of trees and shrubs to act as carbon sinks.

Others were focused on adaptive measures like switching to hotter climate and canopy management techniques that address potential increases in temperature.

Dr Galbreath said the findings suggest wine businesses are implementing measures in order to adapt to the possible .

"Some are doing these things because of economic reasons. For example, businesses can save money by reducing their energy or resource use," he said.

Wine producers readily exchange technical and industry knowledge in order to plan for the opportunities and risks that lie ahead, said Dr Galbreath.

The survey also allowed for respondents to make comments if they wished to do so. Despite some respondents expressing scepticism as what extent climate change is happening, most producers "were clearly implementing actions that were mitigative and would end up reducing greenhouse gases anyway," said Dr Galbreath.

"I think overall we can say that the Australian wine industry appears to be putting in place actions that would be appropriate if you are looking to mitigate or adapt to climate change," he said.

"This is an industry that has learned to adapt over and over in Australia. I think the Australian wine industry is savvy and will adjust to changing climatic effects as necessary."

The study was sponsored by Wines of Western Australia.

Associate Professor Richard Eckard, Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre at the University of Melbourne said the 's use of nitrogen fertiliser, which can create the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide when added to soil, is very tactical and targeted.

"Their nitrous oxide emissions are actually very small. If the entire industry halved their emissions, it would contribute two thirds of nothing. The emissions from extensive grain production is quite low as well. The real emissions are from livestock industries," said Associate Professor Eckard, who was not involved in the study.

"The most effective thing livestock producers can do is focus on emissions intensity. That means changing the efficiency of their system, like breeding their cows a year earlier so their system is more efficient and each kilogram of beef comes with a lower footprint," he said.

"In the dairy industry, that may mean moving to extended lactation or in the wool industry increasing fertility of the flock through higher lambing rates. The biggest net change we can make in livestock is with animal numbers, by producing more product with the same input."

Explore further: Wine feels the effects of a changing climate

Related Stories

Wine feels the effects of a changing climate

January 8, 2013

The signs of climate change are universally evident, but for French winemakers, already feeling the effects of competition from other countries, the year of volatile weather does not bode well. A lot of rain, a late spring ...

Wine producers leading climate change adaptation

February 22, 2013

A new study investigating wine regions' adaptation to climate change has found that many wine producers in South Australia's McLaren Vale are leading the world at responding to future risk.

Software zeros in on carbon pollution

July 26, 2013

Local researchers are developing an online tool that would allow farmers to monitor their greenhouse gas emissions and virtually test ways to reduce carbon pollution.

Recommended for you

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

The friendly extortioner takes it all

February 15, 2019

Cooperating with other people makes many things easier. However, competition is also a characteristic aspect of our society. In their struggle for contracts and positions, people have to be more successful than their competitors ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.