The Earth’s atmosphere has warmed significantly over the past 200 years, and this is largely due to human activities that have significantly increased the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. The rise in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is trapping more and more heat within the Earth’s climate system, causing land and oceans to warm at a rate much faster than has occurred naturally in the past¹ .
Our climate has already begun to change, with changes in global and local weather patterns already observed. This includes changes in the frequency and intensity of rainfall, increases to average temperatures, and more extreme weather events, such as storms, heatwaves and periods of drought². This is happening worldwide, and we should be concerned about how this will affect our environment, economy and wellbeing in the years to come.
South East Queensland has been identified as one of several high-vulnerability climate change hot spots in Australia. Accordingly, a number of climate-driven natural hazards which Noosa Shire is currently exposed to are likely be more problematic in the future. The frequency and severity of natural hazards including major storm events, droughts, heatwaves, flooding, storm surge and coastal erosion across the region is expected to increase³.
How Noosa Council is responding?
As the changes to our climate unfold over the coming decades, the risks faced by private and public property, infrastructure, natural systems, human health, agriculture, and the economy are also expected to alter. Council operations may also be exposed to transition risks (e.g. carbon pricing), which may exert pressures upon Council budgets. Therefore, it is critical that Council adopts a long-term proactive approach regarding these risks to help improve and build the adaptive capacity of Noosa Shire. Council also believes that it has a moral obligation to “do its part” in reducing global GHG emissions.
Council believes that the responsibility for responding to the causes and risks associated with climate change is shared by many stakeholders and thus requires a collaborative approach. Proactive planning for climate-related risks includes ensuring appropriate development requirements, adequate infrastructure planning, effective disaster management, good asset management and appropriate governance systems are established and implemented. Council’s response will involve not only adaptive and pragmatic planning, but also localised emissions reductions.
In the face of a changing climate, Council will:
- Maintain a precautionary approach to climate change adaptation and emissions reduction, developing and implementing short and long term actions that seek to achieve resilience and carbon reduction while also delivering other social, economic and environmental benefits.
- Commit to being innovative, flexible and adaptive in our approach to climate change.
To meet the challenges of climate change and satisfy the above, Council has developed a Climate Change Response Policy 2017, is implementing a Zero Emissions Organisational Strategy 2016 - 2026, and is committed to developing a Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the whole of Noosa Shire. Council will also regularly review its policies, strategies, plans and other relevant systems, where their content may be affected by climate change, to ensure they remain current as the science of climate change develops.
Council is committed to improving its knowledge and capability to appropriately respond to climate change through meaningful actions that drive carbon emissions reductions and pragmatic adaptation planning, as part of its overarching Sustainability Principles.
Council is already making progress on the development of a whole-of-shire adaptation plan, with the development of coastal hazard hazards projections for Noosa’s coastal zone. More information about this plan can be found on the Climate Change Adaptation project page on Your Say Noosa, with the coastal hazard mapping results viewable through Council’s Intramaps website.
If you would like to find out more information regarding climate change, in-depth and easy to understand resources can be found at:
The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility’s CoastAdapt website
If you have short questions about climate science, and just want short, digestible answers, the frequently asked questions section of NASA’s climate change website is a good place to begin.
²CSIRO (2014), Climate Change in Australia: Projections for Australia’s NRM Regions, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
³Reisinger, A, et. al. (2014), Australasia. In, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Working Group 2 to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.