The first international conference held in Australia to discuss the science and options for adapting to climate change begins in the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Center, Queensland, on 29 June. Almost 1,000 delegates from around the world are registered for the three-day Climate Adaptation Futures 2010 Conference, hosted by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) and CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship.

Conference chairs NCCARF Director Professor Jean Palutikof and CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship Director Dr Andrew Ash said the conference was the first to focus solely on practical ‘adaptation’ measures.

The science tells us that climate change is happening faster than we thought and that the ‘window’ for us to adapt and prepare is smaller than we thought. Australia is already experiencing the effects of climate change and is likely to be one of the most severely affected amongst developed countries. Regardless of what mitigation actions we take now as a nation or globally to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it is too late to ‘mitigate our way out of the problem’—we will need a mixture of adaptation and mitigation measures.

—Professor Palutikof

The conference topics span the economic costs of adapting; options for health, emergency and community services to cope with the added strain climate change will place on them; and adapting agriculture to cope with changing weather patterns to ensure long-term food security.