Climate Change is a major world issue in the 21st century. Climate change is a sustained change in climate patterns due to an increase in the earth's temperature, which in turn has been attributed to increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. While greenhouse gases in the atmosphere occur naturally to keep the earth at a temperature necessary to sustain life, it is generally accepted that human-induced (anthropogenic) activity has resulted in the "enhanced greenhouse effect", an increase in greenhouse gas concentration, which is causing significant global warming effects.
Carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas, but it is acknowledged as the main contributor to warming. Other important greenhouse gases include nitrous oxide and methane, both of which have increased in the last century and are influenced heavily by human activities.
Livingstone Shire Council is currently investigating opportunities for reducing the carbon emissions in its operations. Reducing the organisation’s carbon footprint can result in:
- An effective response to climate change;
- Business improvement;
- Enhancement of Council’s environmental credentials, including showcasing regional sustainability leadership; and
- Strategically positioning the organisation in line with the current public sector proactive view of carbon reduction
A comprehensive carbon audit is currently being undertaken to determine the organisations carbon footprint and to identify effective measures and projects to reduce this footprint in the areas of behavioural change, energy efficiency, renewable energy (including solar and carbon offsets. The development of a carbon strategy will follow this and will identify a pathway to reducing the organisations carbon footprint.
Livingstone Shire Council are participants in the Queensland Climate Resilient Council’s Program (Q CRC) administered by The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) in partnership with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. The Q CRC is a three year program working with Queensland local governments to strengthen internal council decision-making processes to respond to climate change. The program provides the following to Councils:
- An understanding of the impacts of climate change on Council’s priorities;
- A governance assessment, which will assess and rate 15 governance indicators against world leading practice standards and provide clear recommendations on how Council can improve.
- In 2017/18, the Program will provide leading practice resources for planning and decision making for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- In 2018/19 the Program will provide leading practice guidance for the development of Local Government Climate Change Strategies and two grants from a total fund of $125K to councils wishing to pilot the development of a multi-sectoral climate change strategy in their local government area or at a regional scale
The Reef Guardian Councils programme has been developed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as a vehicle for engendering community change to promote Great Barrier Reef protection through education, information sharing and involvement in on-ground actions. The programme focuses on improving land management practices and water quality in the Great Barrier Reef catchment. It centres on what councils are already doing under five categories: waste, water, land management, community involvement and climate change.
The Reef Guardian Councils programme provides benefits to Councils and their communities, including:
- Strengthened local economies;
- Protection of lifestyles and incomes;
- Promotion of Council’s environmental efforts;
- Exposure to new and innovative other ideas from other communities;
- Improved environment and beautification of living space (e.g. better water, more trees); and
- Leverage for external endorsement, promotion, funding and/or marketing.
Livingstone Shire Council was on the Steering Committee which consequently developed the Reef Guardian Councils programme in the early 2000’s. Council participated as an inaugural member council in the programme from 2007 to 2008 and re-joined the programme in its own right in February 2014 following de-amalgamation from Rockhampton Regional Council.
If you would like to find out more information regarding climate change, in-depth and easy to understand resources can be found at:
- CSIRO's Climate Change in Australia Website
- The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility’s Coast Adapt website
- If you have short questions about climate science, and just want short, digestible answers, the frequently asked questions section of NASA’s climate change website is a good place to begin.