What is the Climate Emergency?

    In September 2021, Mitchell Shire Council formally acknowledged the Climate Emergency.

    Mitchell Shire now joins 115 other local government jurisdictions and organisations around Australia that have recognised the scale of the challenge posed by climate change and have committed to strong and urgent climate action.

    Council acknowledges that the current levels of global warming and human-induced climate impacts require urgent action. All levels of government need to recognise this action. However, as the closest tier of government to the community, we are well-placed to deliver and support climate change mitigation actions. Developing a CEAP together with our community is a key component of our response to the climate emergency we are facing.

    Why do we need a plan?

    Climate change is already impacting our natural and built environments, our health, and the local economy, and requires an immediate and urgent response.

    We know our community is passionate about climate action having identified it as one of the six key themes of our 2050 Community Vision.

    It's important we all work together – Council, the community, schools, businesses, and industry – to take action to address the impacts of climate change and work towards a safer and more sustainable future. We know that a business-as-usual approach cannot continue, we need transformational change and we need it now.

    While Council has been making great progress in our sustainability and emissions reduction efforts, it is time to step these up, both internally and in how we support the community.

    Climate change impacts everyone. By working together to respond to the climate emergency we can build a safe, prosperous, and sustainable Mitchell for all.

    How is Climate Change Impacting Mitchell Shire?

    While climate change impacts are already being felt across Victoria, Mitchell Shire faces distinct challenges. 

    Our Shire is responsible for over 1500 kilometres of roads. Over the past two years we have experienced in excess of $5 million worth of damages from storm events to these assets alone. The frequency of these damaging storm events in our community is increasing. 

    By the 2030s, increases in daily maximum temperature of 0.9 to 1.8°C (since the 1990s) are expected. By 2050, average maximum temperatures are expected to increase up to 3.1°C. As warming continues, more heat extremes are expected in the decades to come.  

    A heatwave is defined as three or more days of unusually high day and night-time temperatures. Victoria experiences a severe heatwave event on average every two years, challenging already vulnerable people and industries. Victoria can expect to experience a severe heatwave event every year by 2030, doubling the current event frequency and cost to the economy. Over the past 100 years, heatwaves have caused more deaths than any other natural hazard. Heatwaves also restrict work capacity and decrease the productivity of exposed workers. Heatwaves exacerbate drought, which in turn can also increase bushfire risk. 

    Horticulture, including vineyards, and olive-groves, and vegetables are highly sensitive to reduced water availability. Changes in temperature will alter planting and harvesting times and compress the times suitable to harvest. Pest and disease incidence are also likely to change. Intensive animal industries may require more power and water to cool facilities and maintain adequate temperatures. While the total annual number of frost days is expected to decrease, an increase in spring frosts is possible, especially over the next decade or so. 

    Extreme rainfall events are expected to become more intense on average through the century but remain variable in space and time. Over time, annual rainfall totals are likely to decline, with the greatest drying in spring. This will have a dramatic influence on both community and ecosystem health outcomes. 

    What has Mitchell Shire Council has done to prepare for climate change?

    Council has undertaken a range of actions internally to reduce carbon emissions, some key actions include:  

    • Purchase of Greenpower renewable energy for 99% of Council's electricity consumption and accredited carbon offsets for Council's natural gas consumption from 1 July 2022. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 3,614 tonnes (CO2-e) per year;
    • Installation of over 220kW of rooftop solar PV on Council buildings to date;  
    • Current participation in the ‘Sustainable Subdivisions Framework’ trail and joint planning scheme amendment ‘Elevating ESD in the planning scheme’;  
    • Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) audits conducted at the Greater Beveridge Community Centre, Broadford Living and Learning Centre in 2021 and Kilmore Leisure Centre, Seymour Sports and Aquatic Centre and Clonbinane Community Hall in 2022;
    • Ongoing work with the Mitchell Environment Advisory Committee (MEAC), continuing partnership with the Goulburn Murray Climate Alliance (GMCA) on a wide range of projects, ongoing working relationships with BEAM Mitchell Environment Group and Mitchell Community Energy (MCE);      
    • Adoption of the Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) for Council Buildings Policy in September 2021;  
    • Ongoing monitoring and reporting of Council's greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water usage;  
    • Adoption of inaugural Environment Policy in May 2020. The policy sets important targets for Energy, Climate Change, Land and Biodiversity, Water, Urban Ecology, and Resource Use and Waste Management;   
    • Renewable energy Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed in 2020 for council's major streetlighting account, representing 39% of Councils electricity usage;  
    • Appointment of a full-time Sustainability Officer in January 2020;    
    • Establishment of an Environment & Sustainability Department in November 2020;
    • Introduction of an incentive in Council's fleet policy for hybrid and electric vehicles;   
    • Streetlight retrofit program undertaken in 2015, reducing energy usage and energy costs by up to 68%

    How do you know the community wants Council to take action on the climate emergency?

    Our community identified climate action as one of six key themes in the 2050 Community Vision.

    More recently, more than 75 per cent of respondents to our climate change community survey said that they think Council should help the community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect itself against climate change.