Climate change

A dense orange haze of bushfire smoke covers Australian Parliament House during the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires.

Climate change is already affecting communities throughout Australia, with 2020 the joint hottest year ever recorded across the globe. As a result, Australia has also experienced changes in extreme weather, with more frequent and intense heatwaves, storms, flooding and bushfires. As the impacts of climate change become more apparent, new approaches, solutions and pathways for implementing them are becoming increasingly vital to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climatic changes.

With over 300 ANU researchers working across the multiple dimensions of climate change, ICEDS will focus on building ANU leadership. This encompasses fundamental climate science and its effects on our biophysical environment through to societal impacts and responses including economic, political, legal and sociological. At this stage the following themes have been identified as priorities for increased action: climate and health, regional revitalization, transformational climate change adaptation and removing atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions (negative emissions) including the ANU Below Zero Initiative.

Our Institute's research scope encompasses the following themes.

Research scope

Culture and society »

Unless climate action and disaster response is framed in ways that engage with the world views of target audiences, cognitive dissonance can set in resulting in people continuing to ignore the problems. Given these factors, our members' research incorporates aspects of human life including art, behaviour change (eg ANU Below Zero research cluster), capacity building, communications, gender, research with Indigenous communities, psychology, resilient communities and urban systems. 

Earth sciences »

Understanding the processes that move energy and water through the ocean and atmosphere, and being able to model these processes in computer simulations, is critical for improving the accuracy of projections of future climate change. Our members' earth sciences research encompasses fields including climate science, atmospheric processes, oceans, water, the carbon cycle, the cryosphere, and geophysical conditions.

Health & security »

Our members' work broadly encompasses state and human security, health and wellbeing, human security, energy systems, infrastructure, emergency preparedness and disaster responses.

Land, water, food, energy & biodiversity nexus »

Caring for our ecosystems and conserving biodiversity threatened by climate change and other environmental stress factors such as land clearing is a challenge facing land managers and policy-makers throughout the world.

Net zero technologies & policies »

Our members' expertise includes researching and testing the technologies and policies required to shift societies to adapt to our changing climate and become greenhouse gas neutral, covering decarbonisation of every sector of our economy including energy, transport and agriculture.

Policy, economics, law and governance »

Members' work spans domestic and international responses to climate and energy policy and economics and disaster preparedness and responses, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and climate change adaptation.