As part of the State Government’s strategic direction on climate change, the VASP has a significant focus on supporting local government with the prioritisation and implementation of adaptation measures.
Even though ‘sustainability’ is a condition and has much broader implication and application than 'adaptation' (a process, adaptation remains a significant tool in addressing sustainability, especially as climate volatility presents some risks to Council and its business.
While it is not possible to attribute any single event to climate change, there are credible studies that indicate an increase in climate volatility and risk. Five studies, including research from the University of Melbourne, Australian National University and the University of NSW, report that rising global temperatures have
- Doubled the chance of the most intense heat waves
- Tripled the likelihood of heatwave events
- Made extreme summer temperatures across Australia five times more likely
- Increased the chance of hot, dry, drought-like conditions seven times
- Made hot spring temperatures across Australia 30 times more likely.
In addition, rising temperatures have extended the bushfire season into October and March. With the spate of recent flood, fire and drought events, Northern Grampians has likely been victim to this increased volatility.
Without being alarmist about climate risk, Council still needs to consider any heightened risk so it can plan its response, look for appropriate resources, make any necessary organisational or operational changes, and support local communities and businesses accordingly.
Also needing consideration are the more gradual and subtle changes such as seasonal shifts or changes in average temperatures. These changes could have complex implications through direct impacts or significant flow-on effects that cause disruption and changes to asset management, service provision, essential services, emergency management, industries, communities, ecosystems and the local economy.
Apart from loss of life, injuries, and health impacts – including mental health – and the damage to infrastructure, flow on effects in one sector are likely to also have consequences in others. For example, primary production, manufacturing, retail, transport, are all linked. Community well-being may suffer and demand for government services increase. Insurance costs may rise.
Given its size and resource constraints, Council has been very active over the last few years in looking at the risk and impacts to the public assets it owned and managed (e.g. building upgrades), to its service delivery (e.g waste management), and to its internal operations (e.g. recent printing and ICT system upgrade, current risk register review).
It has also been active in supporting private sector adaptation and innovation and to identify and exploit opportunities that may arise for various regions and sectors. This includes opportunities in renewable energy, business forums, information sessions for primary produces and advocating for increased support for private sector adaptation.