Online Professional Short Course: Climate Essentials for Agriculture

An aerial view of cattle on a farm being moved from a dried-out pasture to a slightly greener one.

Climate change is already affecting communities throughout Australia with recent average annual temperatures about 1.14°C above those in pre-industrial times. As a result, Australia has also experienced changes in extreme weather, with more frequent heatwaves, storms, flooding and bushfires.  Whilst the agricultural sector is particularly vulnerable to our changing climate, there are a wide range of adaptation strategies and the sector can also provide solutions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

This short course has been designed to provide an overview of the latest developments around climate change for those working in agriculture and on food security.  It will cover both the science of climate change and how we can respond.

The course is run by the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University, bringing together leading climate change and agricultural researchers from across the university and throughout Australia.

We will be holding a broader, cross-sectoral "Climate Essentials" short course in December. 

Scope and content

The course will provide a summary of the latest climate science, including climate extremes, impacts and adaptation options, impacts on water, greenhouse gas emissions and value chains.  There will also be sessions on climate change communication and the political dimensions of climate change and implications for Australian agriculture and rural communities.  Lectures will be tailored to provide direct contextual relevance to the decisions faced by those working in and around agriculture, covering both cropping and livestock industries.

Course details

  • This online course will cover eight topics over four mornings: two sessions per day, with each session punctuated by Q&A and discussion.  It's equivalent to a one and a half day course. 
  • Participation will be via the Zoom video conferencing tool, facilitating direct interaction and discussion with lecturers and other course participants.
  • Course timings 9:00am – 12:30pm, Mon 28th Sept and 9am-12pm every other day Tues 29 Sept - Thurs 1st Oct 2020.
  • A detailed version of the program and course details can be downloaded here.

Who should attend?

This course has been designed for those working on the agricultural sector who want to gain an overview of the latest climate research, the impacts of climate change and responses in terms of both mitigation and adaptation. It's expected that participants will come from a range of different backgrounds and will include farmers, policymakers, community leaders, industry bodies, government employees, investors and consultants. The diverse perspectives of these participants will be interesting in generating robust discussion.

Important information

  • The course will take place subject to demand. Registrants will receive a full refund in the unlikely event that the course is cancelled.  
  • Limited spots available - only 30 spots are available for this course offering. 
  • Group discounts are available for bulk registrations of three or more participants from the same organisation.  
  • Contact course convenor, Ruth O’Connor, via or 02 6125 4672 to find out more.     
  • Cost - $1350 per person, including GST 


Monday September 28

Introduction & ice-breaker

         Ruth O’Connor, ANU Climate Change Institute

1. Understanding Climate Change and Extremes

         Mark Howden, ANU Climate Change Institute

2. Recent trends & future projections in heat and cold stress on Australian crop production: implications for management & breeding

          Scott Chapman, University of Queensland

Tuesday September 29

3. Communicating climate change to psychologically complex creatures (“human beings”)

         Bec Colvin, Crawford School of Public Policy

4. Greenhouse gas emissions

         Mark Howden, ANU Climate Change Institute

Wednesday September 30

5. Impacts and Adaptation options for Australian Cropping and Livestock Industries

         Steven Crimp, ANU Climate Change Institute

6. Climate change and value chains

         Lilly Lim-Camacho, CSIRO, Sustainability, Agriculture and Food 

Thursday October 1

7. Water in a climate changed world

         Jamie Pittock, Fenner School of Environment and Society

8.The political dimensions of climate change and implications for Australian agriculture and rural communities

         Verity Morgan-Schmidt, Founder of Farmers for Climate Action