The impact of climate change on the Australian sugarcane industry

Martina K. Linnenluecke*, Clara Zhou, Tom Smith, Nicole Thompson, Natalie Nucifora

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This study assesses the impact of climate change on changes in sugarcane output for Australia's main sugarcane-growing regions, using a dataset for the years 1964–2012. We test for accelerated effects of climate change post-1995 (the midpoint in our testing period), as well as for possible non-linear impacts of climate change that are related to the geographical location of sugarcane plantations. Our findings show that increases in atmospheric carbon concentration have had a significant negative impact on sugarcane output after 1995, which contrasts with an earlier positive effect before 1995. Peak temperatures also had a larger impact on sugarcane output after 1995. For areas south of the tropical line and from 1995 onwards, an extra kilometer of distance from the tropical line corresponds to an increase of 1 million tons in sugarcane output growth. Our study tests for additional variables (irrigation, sugarcane diseases, fertilizer use, and dominant sugarcane variety planted) with results remaining similar. We conclude by discussing implications for policymakers and future research, in particular, the importance of factoring in regional differences and non-linear effects into adaptation planning across agricultural regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118974
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date23 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020


  • Climate change
  • Sugarcane production
  • Geographical location
  • Non-linear effects
  • Adaptation


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