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Climate Change

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What Is Climate Change?

​Climate change refers to the long term shift in average weather conditions, which occurs naturally and is also influenced by human activities. Increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are believed to have caused most of the recent climate changes. In New South Wales, average temperatures have been steadily rising since the 1960s. Examples of other recorded climate changes in Australia include more hot days and fewer cool nights, longer fire seasons, and rises in sea level.
While actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are important, Council and the community must also take measures to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change. There are many studies and reports on climate change and what it means. A simple Australian report that provides current information on how the climate has changed, expected future climate changes and the predicted impacts of climate change, is the Science of Climate Change Questions and Answers.

Extreme Weather Risks

​The variability of the current climate already poses risks to our community. Extreme weather risks include storms, flooding, bush fires, drought and extreme heat, which when faced, can have impacts on the health and wellbeing of our community, the built and natural environment, and the economy. Climate change is expected to add to the challenge faced by those already vulnerable to extreme weather risks.

What changes in climate are predicted to happen locally?

A range of studies have been conducted, including at the regional level, that have provided information on the types of climatic changes that are predicted to occur within this century. The Office of Environment and Heritage Adapt NSW has climate change projections to the regional level. In summary, in the Illawarra Region, it is predicted that the following is likely:
  • Average, maximum and minimum temperatures are going to rise;
  • There will be more hot days and fewer cold nights;
  • Rainfall will decrease in winter and increase in autumn and summer;
  • Increase in average fire weather in spring and increase in severe fire weather in summer and spring.
It is expected that some of the impacts of climate change include:
  • sea level rise;
  • changed flooding behaviours;
  • changed fire regimes; and
  • increase in the number of heatwaves.

What is Council doing about Climate Change?

Council has considered both how its activities are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions as well as the risks posed by climate change.
A range of projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been implemented, including the preparation of an Energy Savings Action Plan, focusing on Council’s high energy using facilities, and ongoing monitoring of Council’s energy and fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
Council has assessed risks to its services and infrastructure and prepared the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan, with funding assistance from the Australian Government’s Local Adaptation Pathways Program. This was in acknowledgment that climate change has the potential to damage council assets, disrupt the delivery of council services, generate financial impacts and negatively affect the wellbeing of the community, particularly those vulnerable to weather extremes.
Climate change is identified in the Environmental Sustainability Strategy 2014-2022. This plan identifies climate change as a challenge facing Council and also an important environmental issue for community well-being. Through this Strategy, Council is committed to reducing risk to people and assets due to major climate events. Link to Strategy here
Council and its partner organisations have a range of programs and planning documents that consider the risks that predicted climate change impacts pose, including Emergency Management, Bush Fire Risk Management, Coastal Zone Management, Floodplain Management and Biodiversity Conservation.

What can I do?

Ideas for reducing your greenhouse gas emissions include:
  • turning off appliances at the wall socket,
  • installing insulation in your roof,
  • sign up to an accredited GreenPower provider or put solar panels on your roof,
  • when you need to change your appliances or hot water system – look at their energy rating to pick the most efficient model,
  • use your car less by walking, cycling or using public transport,
  • purchasing locally grown produce or growing your own.
Other ideas and actions
  • Become aware of the Office of Environment and Heritage climate change projections for the Illawarra region and what they may mean for you.
  • Be prepared for weather related emergencies, including making an emergency kit, and preparing Home Emergency Plan or Bush Fire Survival Plan.
  • Get involved by subscribing to the Sustainable Wollongong newsletter and participate in Council’s Sustainability Events.
  • More sustainable living ideas can be found on our Ecological Footprint Page and in Councils Environmental Sustainability Strategy.
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