Climate Change & Energy Efficiency

Taking action on climate change is necessary due to risks climate change poses to council assets, operations, the local environment, business viability and the community.

The climate in Tasmania’s Midlands is changing which is consistent with the broader trend of rising temperatures, more frequent and severe bushfires, heatwaves, drought, extreme weather events, and changing rainfall patterns. Local evidence of climate change is borne out in both the long-term meteorological data (collected at sites in the Midlands since 1882) and anecdotes from those who have lived in the region for most of their lives.

In terms of potential ongoing trends in climate change, Tasmania has high resolution climate modelling data from the Climate Futures for Tasmania program to draw upon. The details of how climate change is expected to play out in the Midlands is provided in detail in the Southern Midlands Council Climate Change Profile (updated and released in 2020), in summary, the following trend is set to continue in the Midlands:

  • more very hot days;
  • increasing average annual temperature;
  • significant reduction in the number of frosts;
  • longer heat waves;
  • higher frequency of & greater intensity of bushfires; and
  • heavier rainfall events interspersed with longer dry spells – declining average annual rainfall in the Midlands.

The following implications of these changes are possible if not likely:


Public Health

  • Mental health issues related to: the stress of extreme events (e.g. bushfire, drought, and flood); environmental change (e.g. tree loss, new weed invasions); and crop failure/loss and associated pressures on revenue.
  • Direct impact of heat waves and bushfire smoke, particularly on the elderly or those with existing chronic health conditions.

Environment

  • Some species will be pushed to the limits of their tolerances by heat, drought and fire resulting in, for example, tree dieback and local species loss.
  • New species of invasive weeds and pathogens are likely to be favoured by the emerging conditions, particularly reduced frosts and rising average temperature.
  • Potential soil loss due to: long dry spells associated with wind; extreme rainfall events; and exacerbated stream-bank erosion from heavy rainfall and flood flows.

Infrastructure

  • Extreme rainfall and flood events are likely to increase impact on, and damage to, roads and bridges.
  • Longer fire season, and more frequent conditions favouring wildfire, may result in increasing frequency of damage to council and community infrastructure.

Two approaches to managing climate change are being taken by council:

1) Adaptation – measures taken to minimising the risk and the emerging impacts associated with climate change on council assets and the community, including consideration of the longer term implications of planning decisions.

Council’s approach to climate change adaptation is covered in the Southern Midlands Council Corporate Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2020.

2) Mitigation – measures taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the across-the-board effort required to stabilise (and reduce) atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. The ultimate aim of mitigation is to reduce the severity of the emerging impacts of climate change.

A link to Council’s updated Climate Change Action Plan will be available soon

Southern Midlands Council has been working proactively with energy efficiency since 2008. Achievements to date are provided in the table below:

Council’s track record on emissions reduction:

Track Record

 

 

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