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Aussie wine industry taking action against climate change

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Research from Curtin University suggests wine businesses across Australia are proactively implementing technologies and processes that both mitigate and adapt to the potential effects of climate change on their industry.

Dr Jeremy Galbreath, Senior Research Fellow at the Curtin Graduate School of Business, surveyed 532 wine companies across Australia about their knowledge and actions towards climate change and the possible impacts it could have on business.

“The main objective of the study was not to gauge participants’ beliefs or opinions about climate change, but rather to see what actions, if any, different businesses were taking in various wine regions,” Dr Galbreath said.

“The survey results showed that businesses across Australia were exchanging information with each other, such as technology and industry knowledge about climate change.”

“Many are also taking action to reduce the use of agrichemicals, conserve water and to adapt to potential increases in temperature in the vineyard through application of canopy management techniques.”

The survey looked at three major wine clusters: Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria.  Dr Galbreath explained that during the survey, wine businesses were presented with a set of both mitigative and adaptive actions, and reported their stage of activity.

“More than half of respondents stated they had implemented or were in the process of implementing measures to minimise the use of agrichemicals, which mitigates climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Dr Galbreath explained.

“Water saving techniques are also commonly employed, with almost three quarters of wine businesses in Western Australia stating that they were working on ways to save water in the vineyards.”

“Given the documented decrease of rainfall in the South West over the past several decades, the findings suggest that wine businesses are implementing measures to adapt to climate change effects.”

The research also indicates more wine is being packaged in new technology, such as lightweight glass bottles and plastic PET bottles.

“Less than half of survey respondents in all three clusters reported this new packaging techniques, but it’s still an interesting research outcome,” Dr Galbreath said.

“As this technology requires less materials and energy to produce, they emit less greenhouse gas emissions in manufacturing and delivery.”

“Overall, the top mitigative action across all clusters is a reduction in the use of agrichemicals, while the top adaptive action is water-saving techniques in the vineyard.”

Dr Galbreath says although climate change remains a contested issue, the results of this study are encouraging and optimistic.

“Wine businesses across Australia are implementing actions that can be seen to both mitigate and adapt to climate change effects,” he said

“On the other hand, businesses are demonstrating management over the natural environment and eco-system services, which is a positive for the industry, given the reality of scarce natural resources within Australia.”

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