Australia is no stranger to unpredictable or extreme weather. But in recent years, we’re seeing more heatwaves, bushfires, coastal erosions and other extraordinary environmental events. No thanks to climate change.
These events can impact us in more ways than one, presenting risks to health, infrastructure – and your council’s long-term plans.
Let’s explore the implications of climate change on local governments and how your council can assess and manage these risks.
The rising threat and responsibility for councils
As leaders in the communities, local councils bear the social, moral and official responsibility to ensure their LGAs are well protected. This includes supporting businesses and residents by proactively considering climate change risks in your current and future developments.
If left unmanaged, climate change can impact local governments in various ways, including:
- Damage to infrastructure
From buildings to drainage, climate change causes continual physical damage to assets above and below ground. This leads to additional maintenance costs, increased risks to health and safety, and even potential liability due to inadequate planning.
- Resident migration
As climate change worsens with frequent flooding or bushfires, poor quality housing in affected areas may not be able to withstand these events. Increased temperatures may turn outdoor spaces like local parks into a safety hazard too. And without a long-term solution for these possibilities, people in your LGA may start moving away to find better living conditions.
- Financial impact
Councils may have reduced rate revenue as businesses are disrupted or unable to operate during extreme weather conditions. There’s also the increasing cost of risk and insurance to consider, as well as large clean-up costs following extreme weather events.
- Reduced council operations
Your own council’s staff and infrastructure may be affected by extreme weather events. And in these situations, your operations may be disrupted, leading to reduced productivity.
Beat the heat through risk assessment
So how can you address the impact of climate change on your LGA?
The first step? Perform a climate change risk assessment.
When you understand the climate scenarios and what your LGA might be exposed to (currently or in the future), you are better placed to make informed decisions and strategies.
Using data relevant to Australia and your specific LGA, a climate change risk assessment will help you:
- Understand and identify the potential risks to your LGA (whether it affects your people, assets, finances or community as a whole)
- Categorise the risks according to severity (low, medium, high or extreme)
- Determine if the risks need to be addressed immediately
- Develop and implement risk adaptation strategies
Let’s look at an example
An example of how climate change risk assessments can benefit your LGA:
Your council is planning to build a playground. But through climate change projections, you find that the area has a high risk of increased temperature. This in turn may damage play equipment, or cause heatstroke and injury to children and families using the facilities.
This risk projection allows your council to mitigate the issue by relocating the playground development to another, more suitable, shaded area. It also allows you to put in plans to use materials that can withstand high temperatures.
Climate change risk assessments are crucial in enabling you to make better long-term plans and decisions – and ensuring that you spend your funds wisely.
A step towards a future with reduced climate risks
It’s important for all councils to perform climate change risk assessments – regularly. Depending on when you did your last assessment, we may recommend that you consider reviewing it.
There are several reasons for this:
- The data used for climate change risk assessments changes every 5-10 years.
- Your council may have gone through big changes through the years, whether in management, or structure, or resources and capabilities.
- Up-to-date assessments also give you the chance to be aware of what’s going on in the market, community and industry – especially useful before you invest in a large development.
- Having a current risk assessment can open doors to government grants that will help fund your adaptation strategies.
We’re here to help
At Statewide Mutual, we are here to help you address climate change and make informed decisions for your council’s plans.
Through our Climate Change Risk Assessment service, we will:
- Research and compile possible climate change trends that may affect your region
- Meet with your stakeholders to present these concerns
- Work with you to identify relevant risks to your area
- Project the likely or unlikely consequences of those risks, and the severity of impact
- Help you identify and develop adaptation strategies – whether to accept, manage or conduct further research
Don’t leave it up to mother nature
Climate change is here and knocking on our doors. Don’t allow it to catch you unprepared.
A climate change risk assessment will give you the necessary information to make the right decisions – so you can re-evaluate your operations and invest in years of thorough and confident development.
And do as much as you can to keep your LGA safe and secure.
Want to protect your LGA from climate change? Speak to your Regional Risk Manager for assistance.