Climate Change is a significant issue for Australian communities. Even with international action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the global climate is projected to undergo significant change, creating both risks to communities and the environment as well as opportunities to improve our processes, behaviours and technologies.
Key changes in climate likely to influence the HCCREMS region and potential impacts associated with these include:
- Sea Level Rise – flooding & inundation of low lying coastal areas, coastal recession & erosion, asset damage, loss of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
- Increases in average and extreme temperatures – human and livestock health, changes to bushfire behaviour and seasonality, increased building operational costs and asset deterioration
- Extreme rainfall, flooding and storms – flash floods and catchment flooding, increased need for emergency response and recovery, damage to infrastructure, buildings and facilities, community anxiety, damage to natural assets
- Rainfall and water availability – fluctuations in water supply for drinking, irrigation and industrial use, as well as more pronounced flooding and drying cycles.
Key initiatives delivered through the HCCREMS Climate Change Program to date include:
- Research to identify historic climate variability and projected changes in the region’s climate
- Completing a spatial assessment of the potential impacts of climate change across the region
- Coordinating development of local and regional (Rural & Coastal) climate change risk assessment and adaptation plans by councils
- Developing a Decision Support Framework and Guide to support consistent, transparent and objectives based decision making by councils for coastal adaptation planning
- Collating and analysing spatial information datasets (representing population, environmental and natural hazards) to identify the location and relative vulnerability of communities to natural disasters.
- Social research exploring the level of awareness and preparedness of `at risk’ communities to climate induced natural disasters
- Developing a Heatwave Planning Template to support councils, health and community service organisations work collaboratively to build community resilience to this increasingly frequent and severe climate risk
The HCCREMS team has played a significant role in building awareness of climate change risk and defining and responding to these at both regional and local scales.