The dictionary definition of Climate Change is a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
There are two main strategy streams that governements and communities employ to deal with (and help minimise) the impacts of climate change: climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation.
Climate Change Adaptation
The Australian Government defines climate change adaption as taking practical actions to manage risks from climate impacts, protect communities and strengthen the resilience of the economy.
Climate Change Mitigation
The Australian Government defines climate change mitigation as dealing with the causes of climate change by reducing emissions. This can be through energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Climate Change Adaptation:
Some of Gippsland’s key climate hazards include increased temperature as well higher frequency of heat waves; which can result in more bush fires, as well less rainfall but increased heavy downpours, which can result in flooding and landslips.
To combat the hard hitting effects of climate change, council is and has partaken in climate change adaptation projects. Some of these projects include:
- Victorian Adaptation and Sustainability Partnership (VASP) project funded by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). The aim of the project was to integrate climate change adaptation (the risk of adverse climate) into council processes. Integrating climate risk into council processes will ensure that council staff are considering the effects of climate change, including extreme weather events, every day in their operations, service delivery and capital works projects.
- Community Sector Climate Resilience Program. The program is funded by Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) with support of the Commonwealth Government and aims to support community service organisations plan for climate change and natural disasters to increase organisational resilience to these events and ongoing future change.
Climate Change Mitigation
To reduce the effects of climate change, council has installed 95kW of solar photovoltaics on the Drouin Civic Centre. This is equivalent to 380 solar panels.
Council has also installed another 40kW on other council buildings including the Warragul Depot, Warragul Depot Customer Service Office and the Maternal and Child Health Centre.
Council has also installed 572kW of solar on community halls, recreation reserves, swimming pools and even public toilets.
This brings the total of solar systems in Baw Baw Shire to 627kW.
Baw Baw Shire Council and State Government’s Community Solar Program funded the solar installations.
South East Councils Climate Change Alliance
Baw Baw Shire Council is a member Council of the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance (SECCCA). SECCCA is a collaboration of nine Councils in Victoria's southeast making a regional response to climate change.
With SECCCA, Baw Baw Shire Council is also involved in developing an Environmental Sustainable Design (ESD) Matrix to ensure that new council buildings are built to the highest sustainable and energy-efficient standard possible, while also considering the additional upfront costs and long term savings.
Council has also upgraded 50 per cent of the public street lighting around the Shire from inefficient 80 W mercury vapour lamps to energy-efficient 18 W LED lights. This has reduced energy and maintenance costs per annum by about 65 per cent.