​Climate Change Adaptation: Preparing for Climate Change

Scientific research indicates that the global climate is changing and the City wants to be on the front foot in addressing the likely impacts to its operations and services. As a Local Government, the City believes it is well placed to identify problems and management responses (adaptation actions) to climate change due to its level of interaction with its community. The City has used a risk management approach to climate change adaptation. This approach aims to identify what climate risks are a priority to the City of Stirling's business and identify adaptation actions that will treat, or reduce the consequence of the risks identified.

Environmental impacts, built environment (infrastructure) and community impacts have been considered within this Adaptation Plan. These areas were chosen because they are most likely to affect the City's services and operations. The City acknowledges that climate change planning is an important and long-term task and the development of this Adaptation Plan represents the first stage of many in helping the City build resilience. After the City has increased its understanding and resilience around climate change it will be better placed to support its community with the challenges that it will face specifically in response to a changing climate.

Assessing the City's vulnerability to climate change

To help determine where the City is most vulnerable to climate change, a risk assessment was undertaken using research to-date about potential impacts from climate change and rating how much of a risk they are to City operations. Any risks that were rated medium or low did not require treatment (i.e. adaptation action) since the City already adequately manages them or are unlikely to impact upon the City's operations. The City will monitor and evaluate all of the risks identified in the risk assessment to help identify if additional action is required in the future.

The City considered the opportunities and challenges it would face when implementing each adaptation action. Some of the actions showed it faces limited barriers while delivering multiple benefits to the community and the environment. The City can implement these types of actions readily. Other adaptation actions that may cost more to implement, or require partnerships between agencies to coordinate, or do not align to current community expectations, will mean more work is required before they can be implemented. By identifying these barriers to action, the City is now aware of what needs to be done before the adaptation action is undertaken. This supports forward planning meaning barriers are addressed so that adaptation takes effect before the risk occurs.

Representatives from relevant Business Units participated in the development of the Adaptation Plan. Climate Change Adaptation is a relatively new area for the City, so the participation of a cross-section of Council Officers on a Climate Change Adaptation Working Group helped raise awareness of the projected impacts and encouraged ownership of these issues across operations. This Adaptation Plan is the beginning of a resilience process that the City will continue, and involves sharing lessons learnt and improving the ability of the City to plan for and respond to the impacts of a changing climate. The science of climate change is always improving and this Adaptation Plan begins a learning process for the City and its community.

Where is action required?

The outcomes of the climate change risk assessment and adaptation-planning process indicated that the City is already implementing many activities that will build its resilience to climate change. For example, the Cities Water Smart Parks Initiative, which includes designing parks to reduce their watering requirements and a sophisticated control system that manages water use, ensures the City can efficiently respond to less rainfall. There are also policy documents being developed to address projected climate changes that will assist the City in its adaptation planning.

The outcomes of the risk assessment indicated that the City's risks are relatively low in comparison to other West Australian Local Governments that have worked on climate change adaptation. In the shorter term which is based around the year 2030, no 'extreme priority risks' and ten 'high priority risks' were identified. In the longer term, which is based around the year 2070, the effectiveness of existing controls (put in place by the City) is less certain due to uncertainties in the projected climate changes and difficulties in predicting how the City's operations will be affected. Therefore, the number of high and extreme risks increased for this period. The impacts from climate change are expected to deliver challenges for the City which will require additional resources, training, collaborative partnerships and uptake of new technologies. The adaptation planning process also highlighted some opportunities from the projected climate changes.

One such opportunity is an increase in tourism along the coastal strip as a result of prolonged warm seasons. The Community Guide summarises short term (to be implemented in the next financial year) and medium term (to be implemented within four years) adaptation actions that were identified through the adaptation planning process.

A Community Guide to the City of Stirling Climate Change Adaptation Plan.pdf
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Annex 1 Adopted Projections for Change and Climate Scenarios.pdf
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Annex 2 Risk and Planning Methodology.pdf
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City of Stirling's Climate Change Adaptation Plan.pdf
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Oil Risk Strategy Final Documentation.pdf
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