There are a diverse range of community and land use considerations that can impact upon the Town’s environment. These considerations include a growing population, a rapidly developing food industry, residential, industrial, retail and technology and university precincts.
The Town is committed to protecting and enhancing its environment, showing leadership through best practice environmental management as well as promoting growth and development within defined environmental parameters. The development of an Environmental Plan was identified as a key project under the Town’s Plan for the Future 2011 – 2026, and the Strategic Enhanced Greenhouse Effect.
The enhanced greenhouse effect (EGE) is proven to be resulting in climate change. The reason for the EGE is due to the high amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane being released into our atmosphere. The gases are caught at the stratospheric boundary and accumulate to create a large blanketing effect whereby it does not allow the release of the increasing heat back to the atmosphere beyond the stratosphere. The result is warming of the planet.
The current evidence suggests that the world’s climate is changing. It is now widely accepted that human activities are contributing to global warming and climate change, which can produce significant physical effects. Some of the effects from climate change are already happening; some are inevitable and will become more severe if humans do not modify their behaviour.
Since 1950 Australia has experienced a warming of 0.4 to 0.7°C, with more heatwaves, an increase in the intensity of droughts, extreme weather events and less rainfall in the south-west of Western Australia. Australia is already experiencing impacts from recent climate change with increasing stresses on water supply and agriculture and is expected to face more severe extreme events with more intense and frequent heat waves, droughts, floods and storm surges.
Local governments have a key role to play in helping communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. Local governments can help their communities to adapt and can adjust their own business and lead the local community on climate change adaptation, involve local people and promote ecologically sustainable development.
The Town of Victoria Park recognises the significance of human-induced climate change and acknowledges that mitigation and adaptation actions need to be undertaken to ensure the Town is well positioned to respond to the predicted impacts of climate change.
In the past the Town of Victoria Park has been involved in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives’ (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Program, having achieved milestones one through five.
Under the CCP, an inventory and forecast of council and community greenhouse gas emissions had been produced, a reduction target for the corporate and community sectors of the Town had been set, a Local Action Plan for greenhouse gas reduction has been developed (the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy 2003), and many of the actions and strategies set by the Plan to reach its determined targets implemented, namely:
- Carbon Neutral Biosequestration for fleet.
- Purchasing of green power for several major facilities within the Town, such as the Administration Building, Aqualife, Library and Depot.
- Changing to LCD Screens/activating energy star installation of timers on appliances, and motion sensors for turning lights on and off in some office areas.
- Down-sizing some fleet vehicles from six cylinders to four cylinders.
- Changing to metal halide globes on new streetlights.
- Staff multi‑riders (free for company travel and lunchtime use).
- Staff pool bikes (available for use for short trips rather than a car).
- TravelSmart programs.
- Undertaking energy audits of office buildings.
Since the dissolution of the CCP, the Town has continued its commitment to adapt to climate change. Council signed the WALGA Declaration on Climate Change, a voluntary opportunity for the Town to demonstrate political commitment to locally appropriate climate change management, and to participate in a sector-wide leadership approach.
Following the signing of the WALGA Declaration on Climate Change, and the inclusion of climate change adaptation as a focus area within the Town’s Environment Plan 2013 – 2018, the Town undertook a process to develop a Climate Change Adaptation Plan. This Climate Change Adaptation Plan is intended to build on and progress the adaptation work that has already been done by the Town and will complement existing strategies and plans. The scope of the Climate Change Adaptation Plan is limited to addressing actions that the Town can take in managing assets, delivering services and assisting the community.
Adapting to climate change
The Climate Change Adaptation Plan identifies 71 adaptation actions tailored to address the identified risks climate change presents to the Town’s services.
The actions proposed address the following areas:
- water and energy efficiency and other sustainable design issues
- the climate resilience of essential infrastructure
- the long-term protection and enhancement of open space and urban forests
- the protection of local properties and assets from extreme river level events
- community resilience to increased heat and flooding risks
- protection and enhancement of biodiversity corridors.
To date, the Town has also been involved on an annual basis with the Carbon Neutral Program to offset carbon dioxide emissions from the Town’s light vehicle fleet. The program involves calculating the amount of carbon dioxide emitted on an annual basis by our vehicle fleet and the number of trees that need to be planted annually to offset (absorb) the emissions.