Risky Business

The climate may or may not change. It might change tomorrow or it might change in millions of years. It might change a little or a lot. The change (if any) can be measured and is known as climate risk.

Once political bias is taken out of climate change and statisticians crunch the numbers on climate risk, businesses and governments can build climate risk into their organisation’s modelling.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), founded by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organisation, measures and observes changes in temperature and extreme weather phenomena. The IPCC found that Australian councils are being challenged by the absence of a consistent information base and guidelines that “clarify governing principles and liabilities.” They also found that there is a “weakness” in translating goals into specific policies.

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) is encouraging councils to adopt its recently released ‘Climate Adaption Manual for Local Government: Embedding resilience to climate change,’ to overcome the challenges associated with climate risk at a local government level.

Leading the charge is Canada Bay Council and its environmental pioneer Mayor Angelo Tsirekas. The council played an important part in developing the manual and provided a full case study for “Embedding Climate Change Resilience into Asset Management.” Their Climate Resilience Assessment Tool is being used as an example for other councils to copy. Critical assets across the LGA were identified and their design, structure, landscape and maintenance was assessed against the potential impact of climate risks such as mean temperature change, extreme heat, wind, hail and bush fires.

There are currently eight days in summer that exceed 35 degrees and this is projected to be closer to 19 days in 2030 and 26 days in 2070. Council’s own administration building was calculated to have a resilience rating of 11.4, which means it has a low level of resilience to climate change impacts. If anyone has been into the administration building on Marlborough St Drummoyne, they’ll know it is an iconic modern building, but come 2070, may be starting to show its age.

What is significant is that Canada Bay Council has started to look into the future and regardless of the carbon tax debate, has accepted there is climate risk and is starting to build it into their asset management. They are doing it so well that they are being used as an exemplary council, for the rest of Australia to follow. All this from a council that has one sitting Greens councillor. It just goes to show that climate change has moved on from being a political issue and is clearly now an organisational and business issue.

Words: Naveen Gupta

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