Along the Nepean River, across much of western Sydney and along much of the NSW coast, the intensity of the March 2021 rainfall, the high total falls over very short durations and the subsequent flooding are proof that Australia is already suffering from climate change and is facing what has been described as a “supercharged” climate (Climate Council, 2021). The impacts of climate change are expected to occur at a more rapid and more destructive rate over the coming years. Significantly, the global and Australian greenhouse gas abatement targets that have been set to date are insufficient to slow and stop global warming and the climatic and environmental catastrophes this will engender. Even if met, impacts will continue to grow until a substantial reduction in atmospheric carbon is achieved (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2018). There will be, amongst many other impacts, more severe drought, higher temperatures, more intense rainfall, more severe storms, more bushfires, higher sea levels and coastal erosion (Climate Council of Australia, 2021). The impacts will not be uniform but almost universally, they will be detrimental to natural ecosystems across the world, to all forms of human endeavour and to the physical condition of the earth.

Australia has the dubious honour of leading the world in many of these impacts and yet it is lagging badly behind in terms of the actions needed to mitigate, reduce and adapt to them. Unless government at all levels and all individuals in the community take concerted action, catastrophic changes will occur across the earth over the coming century and these changes could be expected to take thousands of years to overcome. Interestingly, little seems to have been written by leisure and recreation providers and planners regarding how they should deal with climate change. That said, Veal (2017) highlighted the seriousness of the issue and discussed ways in which action has been taken by leisure providers to mitigate and adapt to change. Veal outlined some of the ways in which leisure and tourism contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and indicated that these industries have
responded in several ways including seeking ways to reduce emissions, assessing the possible impacts of abatement measures on the industries and identifying adaption strategies. Veal also provided examples of how leisure industries are starting to adapt to climate change. More recently, Marriott, Tower and McDonald (2021) have highlighted the projected extent of potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change on human endeavour over the coming decades and note the importance of both mitigation strategies designed to stop or minimise change and adaption strategies. Particular attention is given to how each might be pursued by leisure and recreation planners and lists of strategies are provided.

In light of the above, the purpose of this paper is threefold:
o To highlight some of the key global and national research reports into climate change that leisure and recreation planners and providers must be aware of and the identified actions needed to mitigate, adapt to and avoid potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change on the leisure and recreation industry
o To identify ways by which leisure and recreation planners and providers can contribute to minimising greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate and adapt to the more severe impacts of climate change, and
o To set out a preliminary course of action for leisure and recreation planners and providers so as to avoid the impacts of climate change on the resources they provide for their communities and clients.


Position paper


This paper starts from the philosophical perspective that the science is right: human urbanisation, forest and woodland clearance, population growth, burning of fossil fuels, monoculture cropping and soil degradation (to list some well-known examples) over the last 200 years, and in particular, over the past 50 years, have dramatically changed the composition of the earth’s atmosphere. And this change is continuing. The consequences of the change, which are already been felt through dramatic and generally poorly understood “weather changes” (Hannam, 2021), will be the severe disruption of past climatic regimes such that they will threaten the wellbeing of all humans, human activity and global ecosystems. These changes are intensifying are not readily reversible. They are having dramatic impacts already and can be expected to have catastrophic impacts in the short, medium and long term future. To minimise the impacts and to avoid even more severe global climate and weather change, further action is needed now to reduce global climate change gas emissions and to facilitate carbon capture and storage or “carbon sequestration”. This action must be fully underway within 5 years.


Rights to publish granted to PaRC Inc. on 11 July 2023


Marriott, Ken (Author)


Parks and Recreation Collection Inc.: 2021