THE release of the latest, fearful missive from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on Monday, August 9, has authorities scrambling to review their action plans.

Locally, the South Gippsland Shire Council’s Sustainability Team was pleased of the opportunity to tell the community what they are doing and planning to do:

“Firstly, we would like to commend you and your team on an excellent article summarising the latest information from the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, and the impacts for our region. It is certainly concerning information and it is great to see it getting the recognition it deserves in the local media,” said the shire’s Sustainability Team.

“In terms of council’s response, council will continue to actively work towards both addressing the causes of climate change through reducing council’s operational emissions, while also dealing with the ‘locked-in’ impacts by adapting our practices to respond to the effects of climate change.”

In June this year, council adopted the Environmental Sustainability Strategy Framework 2021, containing a section on climate change.

This outlined council’s previous work and successes in this space, including the reduction of council’s greenhouse gas emissions (excluding landfill) by 26 per cent over 10 years.

This work continues, with a project underway to replace inefficient street lighting with efficient LED alternatives, saving council approximately 200 tonnes per annum in greenhouse gas emissions.

Further, as of January 1, 2022, South Gippsland Shire Council will be purchasing 100 per cent renewable electricity for all council-managed facilities and operations, further reducing emissions.

However, as the Environmental Sustainability Strategy Framework 2021 points out, there is more council can do, with an increased role for council to address both its corporate and broader community emissions.

“Further opportunities exist for council to increase its work in planning to adapt to climate change, helping facilitate adaptation measures across the municipality.

“As outlined in the framework, more detail around council’s work on climate change action will follow via the development of council’s Climate Action Plan in the coming months.

“This action plan will be developed with extensive internal and community consultation, and will reflect the community’s desires and ambition in this space. It is expected that the action plan will be considered by the new council early in their term.”
Council’s recently adopted Economic Development Strategy is designed to work in conjunction with the Environmental Sustainability Strategy Framework 2021. It includes an action for a ‘circular economy’ project. The circular economy is based on the principles of designed out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems. This program will be developed in consultation with the advisory group and industry.

“Council is also currently working with DELWP and Bass Coast Shire on the preparation of the Cape to Cape Resilience Project which is investigating current and future impacts of rising sea levels on the coast line between Inverloch and Cape Liptrap.

“This work will give government agencies and the community a better understanding of how rising sea levels will impact our coastlines and Anderson Inlet in the future. This work will also feed into our involvement in the state government’s program ‘Victoria’s Resilient Coasts – Adapting for 2100’ which is currently in development and also looks at how government policy can respond to the challenges of climate change.”

Council also recently submitted a response to the state government’s draft Building a Climate-resilient Victoria – Adaptation Action Plans 2022-2026, with an emphasis on the primary production element due to the significance of that sector to South Gippsland.