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Where the real action is happening on climate change

Friday 24 May 2019

You may have heard this week the lament of some in Labor, the Greens and other progressive political circles that the federal election result means there will be no serious action on climate change. That’s bulldust. The truth is that there is a lot of action going on already to protect communities against the worst impacts of climate change, but instead of Canberra dominating the show it is local councils leading the way for the benefit of their communities.

There is a disconnect between the way climate change is being debated on the national stage and how it is being tackled at the local level. Local councils are doing some heavy lifting both in terms of mitigation against and adaptation to climate change. Two programs stand out: the LGAQ-coordinated QCoast2100 program and the Queensland Climate Resilient Councils initiative.


Take Douglas Shire Council as a case in point. Using funding from QCoast2100, the council now has specific programs to maintaining foreshore vegetation, prepare Shoreline Erosion Management Plans (SEMP) and increase dune protection, all aimed at limiting the impacts of climate change and associated coastal hazards.

It’s a process that the LGAQ has guided from the start, from the pilot stage to where we are now, with councils and other experts in the field gathering in Cairns this week to discuss a range of adaptation strategies.

Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said the Resilient Coast Strategic Plan the council produced provided more certainty for a region already dealing with the impacts of erosion and storm tide inundation.

“This strategy equips us with the knowledge to proactively plan for future coastline impacts,” she said. “Coastlines are dynamic, ever-changing with each tide and storm.”

The Queensland Climate Resistant Council program had had 39 local governments sign up so far, including organisations as diverse as Barcoo Shire and Kowanyama Shire. This five-year program by the LGAQ and the State Government aims to strengthen leadership and decision making in response to the impacts of climate change. The State has kicked in $2.4 million in total to fund the program.

These two programs were specifically mentioned by the Climate Change Council in its recent stocktake of Australia’s climate change policies.

So, you can see that instead of debating what to do about climate change, local councils have just got in and done it. And that is even before you get to the general work of councils on protecting the Great Barrier Reef and biodiversity generally. Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch vowed on election night to dedicate his last term in parliament to getting rid of plastic straws and other plastics from the environment. Well, councils are already doing that and would love to get some help from Canberra. The same goes for all the natural resource management that Queensland councils perform to protect this State’s biodiversity.

Certainly, all these measures are going to have a localised (as opposed to global) impact. But that is exactly how to go about ensuring their communities are more resilient.

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006


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