ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Social Aspects of Climate Change Adaptation

Led by Professor Kevin Parton and Professor Mark Morrison

This SRA ceased operating as a formal SRA at the end of 2013 though some of the Institute's  researchers are continuing to work in this research area. Other interested researchers are encouraged to consider further research related to this topic.

  • About
  • Issues
  • Members
  • Outcomes
  • Projects
  • Publications
  • Engagement
  • Postgrad Research


While this Strategic Research Area ceased functioning as a separate Institute SRA at the end of 2013, a number of ILWS researchers have research interests in this area and have continued to produce related research outputs and engage with the wider community via the media, public forums and conference presentations.

The aim of the SRA was to assess how the response by individuals and organisation to climate change (adaptation and mitigation) and to climate change policy will proceed, and to contribute to policy as it unfolds.

Its goal was to enhance environmental sustainability in Australia by improving our ability to understand and manage the necessary adaptation to climate change. This adaptation has many social aspects and, accordingly, members of this SRA have worked on various research projects to:

  • Provide information to energy retailers and producers on how to reduce energy demand among households and businesses
  • Allow local governments to understand how to monitor and compare their readiness to respond to climate change
  • Develop an index of resilience for local communities
  • Provide local governments with information on best-practice in community design, and how to achieve this
  • Provide ongoing information on community and business attitudes to climate change, and current energy use and demand management behaviours
  • Provide information on how to more effectively communicate with the community about climate change science and policy

This SRA was multi-disciplinary made up of 12 researchers (senior, mid, early-career and adjunct) based at the University's Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Orange and Wagga Wagga campuses.  They have expertise in:

  • Agricultural and health economics
  • Environmental  economics
  • Environment management  and development economics
  • Political Science
  • Human dimensions of Natural Resource Management
  • Rural sociology
  • Management and leadership
  • Environmental marketing
  • Communications
  • Climate History

The field research for three of the team's research projects on increasing household energy efficiency, climate change communications, and climate change and leadership, has been completed.  The energy efficiency project has come out of Dr Jodie Kleinschafer's PhD on 'Energy efficiency and residential households: Managing energy demand" which was funded by Integral Energy. The climate change communications project, which began in 2010, found there was a need for more targeted media campaigns if the public is to accept Government climate change policies.  The researchers then replicated a U.S. climate change segmentation study in Australia. The climate change leadership project, which was led by Dr Kerry Tilbrook involved a focus group meeting in Canberra in 2011.

Other research and project areas for this SRA included:

  • Adaptation and resilience to natural disasters
  • Resilience in the Lachlan CMA region
  • Impact of climate change on rice supplies in Thailand
  • Health effects of climate change
  • Understanding the impacts of Coal Mining and CSG
  • The role of Social Capital in building and developing community resilience
  • A statement by Church leaders on climate change action
  • Rural adaptation to climate change
  • Drought and climate change


Effective adaptation to climate change requires adaptation at multiple levels. Adaptation is required by households and businesses. Adaptation also requires that governments implement strategies and policies that create the structures and incentives that will lead to carbon neutrality and communities that are resilient to the impacts of climate change.

At both the business and household levels information is needed about beliefs, knowledge and attitudes towards energy use, climate change science and policy, as well as current behaviours regarding energy use. Information is needed about strategies that will be most effective at encouraging households and businesses to reduce energy use.  Information is also needed about strategies that will be most effective at helping households and businesses adapt to changes in climate.

At the community, local and state government levels research is needed to understand and measure communities' state of readiness for managing the impacts of climate change; how communities are currently affected by climate change; and how community design can be altered to better prepare communities for further climate change.

At the Commonwealth government level social and economic information is needed to inform climate change policy. One of the challenges in public policy development is that there is much misinformation in the community about the economic consequences of climate change policy, and the nature of potential policy interventions.  There is a continuing need to conduct research on how to better communicate information about climate change science and policy.

Research is also needed on alternatives and complements to the climate change policy instruments currently being considered by the Commonwealth government.


Members Expertise
Prof Kevin Parton Agricultural and health economics
Prof Mark Morrison Environmental economics and environment management economics
Dr Roderick Duncan Environmental and development economics, political science
Dr Shelby Gull Laird (Adjunct) Human/environment interactions
Associate Prof Rosemary Black Rural sociology
Dr Penny Davidson (Adjunct) Rural sociology
Barney Foran (Adjunct) Economics
Dr Kerry Tilbrook Management and leadership
Dr Jodie Kleinschafer Environmental marketing
Dr Bruce Fell Communications
Dr Felicity Small Social identity and decision-making
Dr Robert Tierney Climate History


Key outcomes or examples of how the work of this SRA has made a difference include:

  • Focus of the Communicating Climate Change project is on how to better communicate climate change science and policy to the Australian community.  Researchers replicated a U.S. climate change segmentation study  for Australian respondents and found that the segments were significantly different within the Australian population. As such they were able to report on the characteristics of the Australian segments. This information, which could be used to design targeted media campaigns on climate change in Australia, has been presented to the Department of the prime Minister and Cabinet (2011) and the Department of Climate Change (2012) and was well received.
  • The energy efficiency project, initially a PhD project funded by Integral Energy, resulted in two projects, one on household decision making, and another where the market was segmented in two different ways, using household types and motives to increase efficiency and decrease electricity consumption. The research has revealed the key motivational influences on household decisions about power savings and was presented to the Department of Climate Change's Energy Efficiency Task Force and Integral Energy in 2011 and 2012.
  • In 2014 Institute adjunct Barney Foran and colleagues from the University of Sydney & KGM Associates produced a series of short reports Balancing the G20s Impact in time for the G20 Summit held in Brisbane, November 2014. The report was sent to all G20 ambassadors in Canberra, CEOs of all leading environmental NGOs, chairs of all G20 sub groups eg business, civil society, youth, labour, think tanks, Australian thought leaders, specifically focused print media Australia and globally, and Heads of global institutions eg OECD, UNEP etc. There has been steady interest in the reports and reasonably constant downloading. Future work will focus more specifically on current G20 priorities (eg possibly youth unemployment) while the 'triple bottom line' accounting emphasis of the 2014 work will be maintained by expanded analytical reports online.




Kleinschafer, J., & Morrison, M. (2016) The Responsiveness of Households to Energy Demand Management Initiatives: Segmenting by Household Types. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 28(4), 287-308. doi: 10.1080/10495142.2016.1237921


Morrison, M., Duncan, R., & Parton, K. (2015) Religion Does Matter for Climate Change Attitudes and Behavior, Plos One,  10(8): e0134868. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134868


Foran, B., Lenzen, M., Moran, D., Alsamawi, A., Geschke, A., & Kanemoto, K. (2014) Balancing the G20's Global Impact. KGM & Associates, University of Sydney & ILWS. Reports PDF

Foran, B. (2014) Chapter 11: Energy Generation, Planning and Management in Byrne,J., Sipe,N., & Dodson,J. (Eds.) Australian Environmental Planning: Challenges and Future Prospects, Routledge, London

Sherley, C., Morrison, M., Duncan, R. and Parton, K.A. (2014), Using segmentation and prototyping in engaging politically-salient climate-change household segments, Journal of Non-Profit and Public Sector Management 26 (3), 258-280.

Tierney, R., & Parton, K. (2014) Social and Economic Change in Rural Communities: The Lachlan Region of New South Wales Between the 1920s and 1940s in Ragusa, A.T (2014) (Ed.) Rural Lifestyles, Community Well-Being and Social Change: Lessons from Country Australia for Global Citizens, Bentham Science.


Kleinschafer, J. & Morrison, M. (2013) Household norms and their role in reducing household electricity consumption, International Journal of Consumer Studies 38 (1), 75-81,

Morrison, M, Duncan, R. & Parton, K.A. (2013), Targeting segments in the Australian community to increase support for climate change policy, Australasian Marketing Journal 21(2013), 212-217

Morrison, M., Duncan, R., Sherley, C. & Parton, K.A. (2013) A comparison between attitudes to climate change in Australia and the United States, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management 20(2), 87-100

Crean, J.C., Parton, K. & Mullen, J.D. ( 2013) Representing climatic uncertainty in agricultural models – an application of state-contingent theory, Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 57(3):359-378

Morrison, M., Kleinschafer, J. and Hicks, J. (2013) Improving Consumers' Responsiveness To Electricity Demand Management Initiatives In Regional New South Wales: The Potential Use Of Behavioural-based Constructs For Identifying Market Segments. Australasian Journal of Regional Studies 19(2)

Parton, K.A. (2013), Economic, social and environmental sustainability of the Murray-Darling Basin, International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability 8, 29-43.

2012 and earlier

Williams, S., Nitschke, M., Weinstein, P., Pisaniello, D., Parton, K.A. and Bi, P. (2012), "The impact of summer temperatures and heatwaves on mortality and morbidity in Perth, Australia 1994-2008", Environment International, 40(1), 33-38.

Williams, S., Nitschke, M. Sullivan, T., Tucker, G., Weinstein, P., Pisaniello, D., Parton, K.A. and Bi, P. (2011), Heat and health in Adelaide, South Australia: Assessment of heat thresholds and temperature relationships, Science of the Total Environment, 414, 126-133;

Thongrattana, P.T., Jie. F. and Parton, K.A. (2011), The impact of uncertain rice supply in Northeast Thailand on inventories and unfilled customer demand, International Journal of Operational and Quantitative Management 17 (3), 259-270.

Crean, J., Parton, K.A., Hayman, P. and Mullen, J.D. (2009), "Early indicators of the extent of climate change on Australian farms", Australian Farm Business Management Journal 6(2), 75-82.

Bi, P., Cameron, A.S., Ying, Z., Parton, K.A. (2008), "Weather and notified Campylobacter infections in temperate and sub-tropical regions of Australia", Journal of Infection Volume 57, Issue 4, Pages 317-323

Bi, P. and Parton, K.A. (2008), "Effect of climate change on Australian rural and remote regions: What do we know and what do we need to know? Australian Journal of Rural Health 16 (1), 2-4.

Bi, P., Parton, K.A., Wang, J., Donald, K. (2008), "Temperatures and human mortality in Brisbane, 1986-95", Journal of Environmental Health 70 (8): 48-55.

Khan, L., Parton, K.A. and Doran, H. (2007), "Cost of particulate air pollution in Armidale: a clinical event survey", Environmental Health 7(2). 11-21.


The Climate Change and the Community Forum, held in Albury, August 19, 2014, as part of 2014
National Science Week. was an initiative of the Murray Darling Association.  The Forum was designed to help the community better understand the issues of climate change and its impact on the Albury-
Wodonga community.

The Institute, together with Regional Centre of Expertise Murray-Darling, Albury City Council, and the Australian National University, supported the event which was attended by more than 120 people including the local MP, mayors, councillors and staff from local councils, community members and
senior secondary students.

ILWS Adjunct Mr Foran was one of the key presenters and his task was "Setting the Scene" in terms of climate change from the local to global which he did by drawing on a wide range of sources.

Among the other speakers was ILWS member Dr Shelby Gull Laird who spoke on the impact of climate change on people, communities and well-being. The speakers were followed by a lively Question and Answer session moderated by the Institute's Professor David Watson.

In the afternoon of the 19th Institute Director Prof Max Finlayson was the moderator of an event organised by ANU "Living with Australia's climate: A community conversation on climate, weather, fire & water."

Postgrad Research


Research Topic

Jenni Greig Predicting the social impacts of change: Exploring a psychological approach to capturing social impact data for cost-benefit analysis
Supervisors Prof Mark Morrison (Principal) Prof David Godden (2011-2014.)
(Thesis Submitted 2015) 
Dr Tim Hutchings Modelling risky decisions in Australian farm business (Graduated 2013)