In Australia the body of knowledge of likely scenarios of climate change impact over the next few decades has increased significantly in both its robustness and level of detail.
The Climate Commission’s (2011) report on The Critical Decade: Climate Science, Risks and Responses summarises the evidence and projection scenarios which are based on them and indicates the certainty and urgency of the reality of climate change in Australia. There has been less advance, however, in tracing the complex interrelationships between these scenarios on the one hand and socioeconomic and demographic change at a regional level on the other. It is undeniable that Australia is experiencing long term changes in climate involving higher surface air and sea-surface temperatures, more hot extremes and fewer cold extremes and increased sea levels. While there is some uncertainty about the rate of change, it seems clear that these changes will continue. The effects of climate change are not distributed evenly across the continent and will be felt more in some areas than others. Just as the impact of climate change is felt more by some members in the community than others, there are differences between areas and communities in the extent and nature of climate change. The purpose of this paper is to relate anticipated spatial variations in climate change impacts to the distribution of the Australian population and examine the implications for future patterns of population distribution and internal migration.