Inverloch sandbag seawall under construction. Photo: Maw Civil Marine.

By Shae Danilo

THE Bass Coast community has been rallying for over a decade to raise awareness and create change on the climate change impacts along the coast.

Bass Coast residents have become increasingly worried about coastal erosion from rising sea levels and intensifying storm surges.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report shows climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying.

Worse fires, tougher droughts, severe tropical weather and increased floods – it’s frightening, but climate change is happening, and it can’t be ignored any longer.

The report by the IPCC is one of the most comprehensive reports on climate change and calls on policymakers to take urgent action on climate change.

IPCC said within a decade, global warming could raise temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Aileen Vening, environmental educator and activist, believes the coastal erosion along the Bass Coast is a climate catastrophe.

“I am beyond angry at the government’s negligence. Coastal erosion is only one small element of the climate change issue,” Ms Vening said.

“We’ve lost 50m of dunes in Inverloch, and the government is too worried about infrastructure, buildings and roads, and don’t realise if we don’t do something now, we risk losing those roads and buildings through erosion.”

According to the IPCC report, the previous five years have been the hottest on record since 1850 and the recent rate of sea-level rise has nearly tripled in comparison to 1901 to 1971.

The IPCC report says changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human influence.

Humans’ role in climate change is undisputed and is the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers – further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, a loss in seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets and a loss of summer Arctic sea ice.

Coastal areas will see continued sea-level rise throughout this century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion.

“I wrote to [Monash MP] Russell Broadbent to express my concerns. I’m going to be a grandparent soon, and their world is going to look a lot different from ours. It upsets me that the government is sitting on their hands doing nothing,” said Ms Vening.

South Gippsland Shire Council report they’re working with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Bass Coast Shire Council on the preparation of the Cape to Cape Resilience Project, which is investigating current and future impacts of rising sea levels on the coastline between Inverloch and Cape Lintrap.

This program will allow government agencies and the community to understand how rising sea levels will impact local coastlines, including Anderson Inlet, in the future.

Extreme sea-level events which previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.

“The government has lost the trust of almost everyone. There’s a clear parallel between their inability to create a national coronavirus plan and creating a national zero-emissions plan. We need a national approach because trying to patch things up when it’s too late won’t work,” Ms Vening said.

Bass Coast Climate Action Network (BCCAN) is supporting a change to climate change policies.

“BCCAN had a workshop last Sunday where Benita Russell from Bass Coast Shire Council and Councillors Leticia Laing and Michael Whelan talked about the implementation of their Climate Action Plan,” said Ms Vening.

“BCCAN will be supporting council in whatever ways we can to help Bass Coast reach zero emissions by 2030.”

Although, the hope for zero emissions by 2030 is bleak for many people, including Ms Vening.

“Reaching net-zero emissions by 2030 is just rubbish. People are busy doing stuff themselves like putting solar panels on their homes, but the government aren’t helping at all,” she said.

“We’ve had some serious weather down here in South Gippsland, but anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere in summer pays the price. The federal government is deflecting the issue.”

The report says by the end of the century, we’re likely to see sea levels rise between 28cm and 55cm.