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Impact of climate change on products in local supermarkets

Key Point:
  • Flooding in Western Australia is expected to keep roads closed in parts of the Kimberley for almost a week.
  • Road transport industry chiefs say extreme weather disruptions to cargo operations are becoming more frequent.
  • The creation of cold storage warehouses and more national highways has been advocated as a way to strengthen the freight network.
Climate change has felt like an invisible concept to many of us, but in recent years it has started to become more visible in everyday Australian life.
Reportedly, climate change However, it is also beginning to affect the ability to transport goods across Australia.
Western Australia’s Kimberley region is expected to cut off parts of the region from the rest of the state for the rest of the week.

Some experts and industry groups have suggested that more needs to be done to make Australia’s freight network more climate-resilient.

Which regions are already affected?

A 2013 study by the University of Queensland examining the 2011 Rockhampton floods found that communities cut off from the rest of the state by roads for about two weeks were so vulnerable to food insecurity. was considered.

They found that this was “due to both reliance on long food supply chains interrupted by loss of transport access and infrastructure, and the relative lack of local alternative food distribution channels.”

Many of the 2019-2020 Black Summer wildfires were concentrated in the eastern states of Australia, but some of the largest wildfires erupted along the Nullarbor Plain. .

The shutdown has significantly disrupted food supplies to the state.

climate disruption

The Bureau of Meteorology reports on climate change annually in its State of the Climate Report.
It linked the country’s flooding events to a “trend towards high-intensity, short-term rainfall events” and reported an increase in extreme fire weather.
Professor Mark Howden, a climate scientist at the Australian National University, previously said in a public debate in the Sydney Morning Herald that the frequency of floods, such as once-in-a-century events, “doesn’t make sense in a changing climate”. I’m talking
Cam Dumesny, CEO of the Western Roads Federation, which represents the road transport industry, told SBS News that disruptions to freight operations due to extreme weather are becoming “more frequent.”

So how might these weather events affect your supply chain?

The river may have peaked at Fitzroy Crossing on Wednesday, but the area could remain blocked by floodwaters until next weekend. sauce: AAP / Andrea Myers/PR Image

grocery movement

Most states produce fresh food to meet basic consumer needs. To provide consumers with a wide range of choices, agricultural products brought in from other states are often transported by truck.
Internationally produced products are most often delivered via Sydney or Melbourne (less Brisbane). Trained or trucked across the country with Australian packaged and processed foods.

Most food in Australia is trucked to stores and some of it is refrigerated.

Most susceptible route

Liz Jackson, associate professor of supply chain logistics at Curtin University, says Washington is the most vulnerable of Australia’s states and territories to supply chain disruptions due to climate impacts. .
“Western Australia is coming to an end when it comes to the idea of ​​one road and one rail line for all intents and purposes, even global freight links. [of Perth] I’m pretty worried,” she told SBS News.
Jackson said the additional costs incurred by having to find ways to bring food to places that deal with natural disasters will inevitably pass through to consumers.

“Whether they are passed on to consumers in the form of grocery bills, or insurance premium increases, or our council fee increases, somehow they are delivered. will be,” she said.

Building network resilience

Jackson and Dumezny agreed that one way to reduce the impact of climate change on food supplies is to install cold storage facilities in more parts of the country.
They both suggested that such a facility near Broome would take some of the burden off the Kimberley region’s current flooding freight network.
“The supply chain is all about flow, the flow of products, and the moment there’s a disruption in the flow, that’s a big problem,” Jackson said.
She said such projects are typically funded by the state or federal government, with private companies participating once they are built so they can be used as needed.
Jackson suggested that the location of such facilities could be determined by considering future modeling of natural disaster risk.
Dumesny said investments in national transport networks should be considered national construction projects.

He said different modes of cargo are currently being considered separately, but the big picture needs to be seen.

“Freight drivers, maritime, rail and air – we need all four modes in this country to work as a symphony rather than a cacophony. The problem is that government policies are mode-specific,” he said. .
Mr Dumesny said sea freight is almost non-existent around Australia, air freight is too expensive and rail routes are even more limited than roads.
He said additional national highways connecting states would also provide alternative routes across Australia.

Work has begun to block off a portion of the Great Central Road, a dirt road that runs through the Northern Territory from central Queensland to Washington. But Dumsny said it was going “at a snail’s pace” and needed to be prioritized and tracked quickly.

He said the estimated cost of the project was well worth it with the non-freight benefits.
“We’re talking about spending $3 billion to essentially seal and upgrade the 1,500-kilometer network that actually opens the country.
A review of the resilience of Australia’s road and rail supply chains will be conducted by the federal government in 2022.
Within the terms of the commission, it was expected to take into account major risks, including “weather events or natural disasters”.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts said the final draft of the report from the review was completed but was “under review” and could not be given a release date. I didn’t.
In November last year, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts, Catherine King, said the ministry would “see how it can work to achieve net zero and improve the resilience of transport networks and supply chains.” We have established a new unit to identify them.” We are facing an increase in extreme weather events. ”

The “Net Zero Unit” supports the cross-portfolio Net Zero Task Force, which advises governments.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/how-climate-change-is-affecting-whats-on-the-shelves-at-your-local-supermarket/gxaivrjgi Impact of climate change on products in local supermarkets

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