Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy August 2014 edition

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1 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy August 2014 edition

2 For further information (07) Sunshine Coast Council is a registered trademark of Sunshine Coast Regional Council. Sunshine Coast Regional Council 2009-current. Adopted by Council June 2010 Revised August 2014, due to Sunshine Coast Local Government Area boundary amendments. Acknowledgements Council acknowledges the assistance of the University of the Sunshine Coast. Council also wishes to thank all interested stakeholders for their valuable contributions towards the development of the Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy Disclaimer Information contained in this document is based on available information at the time of writing. All figures and diagrams are indicative only and should be referred to as such. This is a strategic document which deals with technical matters in a summary way only. Whilst the Sunshine Coast Regional Council has exercised reasonable care in preparing this document it does not warrant or represent that it is accurate, reliable, current or complete. The content of this document is not intended to provide specific guidance for particular circumstances and it should not be relied on as the basis for any decision to take action or not take action on any matter which it covers. Users are advised to exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek professional advice, including legal advice, before relying on the information contained in this document. Except for liability which cannot legally be excluded, Council excludes all liability, injury, loss or damage (including for negligence) incurred by the use of, or reliance on, or interpretation of this document. Liability which cannot legally be excluded is limited to the maximum extent possible. 2 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

3 Table of contents Executive Summary 4 1 Context The effects of climate change The cause of climate change Peak oil and energy transition International and Australian Policy Federal Government initiatives Queensland State Initiatives South East Queensland Initiatives Sunshine Coast Council Policy Context The role of Sunshine Coast Council Sunshine Coast Council Corporate Plan Policy context for the Sunshine Coast Council 19 2 Local Projections Temperature Rainfall Sea level rise Wind Cyclones and severe storms Hail Droughts and bushfires 25 3 Challenges and Opportunities Exposure of the natural environment to climate change Biodiversity Waterways Coast Cultural values Population growth and development Demand for services Implications for Council assets and infrastructure Health implications Impacts on the economy and marketability Lifestyle Community greenhouse gas emissions Council greenhouse gas emissions Responding to the challenges New opportunities 37 4 Strategic Framework Goal Key policy approaches Objectives Strategy implementation and review Reporting Review Funding 42 Glossary 43 Abbreviations 49 References 50

4 4 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

5 Executive Summary To build a low carbon, low oil, resilient future for the Sunshine Coast. IPCC, Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

6 Executive summary The Sunshine Coast is one of the most rapidly growing regions in Australia, abundant in natural assets and boasting a lifestyle that attracts a growing number of visitors and residents alike. However, as part of South East Queensland, the Sunshine Coast has been identified as a climate change hotspot by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - a United Nations scientific body that provides authoritative scientific information from 4,000 of the world s leading climate change scientists. Peak oil is another real but lesser known threat with vulnerability from finite and declining oil supplies. Exposure to climate change and peak oil threats is heightened by the region s coastal location, population growth, development pressures, dispersed settlement pattern and reliance on climate-sensitive economies. In response to these threats, Sunshine Coast Council has prepared a Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy (the Strategy) and relevant action plans to help provide environmental, social and economic resilience to these issues. It is backed by Council s Corporate Plan which acknowledges the need to tackle climate change and peak oil and supports the Council s vision for the Sunshine Coast. The Strategy identifies risks, challenges and opportunities associated with climate change and peak oil for the Sunshine Coast. Council has the potential to prepare and respond to the challenges and opportunities through its business functions and services and can complement the work that is already being undertaken across the region outside of Council. In accordance with the precautionary principle the Strategy takes a risk avoidance and management approach to: reduce greenhouse gas emissions cut oil dependency help the Sunshine Coast transition to alternative energy sources adapt to the prospect of climate change build business capacity for the Council and the region. A strategic framework has been developed to support the implementation of the Strategy and relevant action plans to achieve the overall goal: 'To build a low carbon, low oil, resilient future for the Sunshine Coast.' The framework comprises of four key policy approaches; through Leadership, Mitigation, Adaptation and Energy Transition. It provides a roadmap for the next decade through a set of eight objectives and relevant action plans (see Figure 1 on next page). The Sunshine Coast as Australia s most sustainable region vibrant, green, diverse. 6 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

7 Figure 1: Policy themes and objectives LEADERSHIP 1 Council to provide leadership and demonstrate best practice 2 Build capacity for Council and community through partnerships and advocacy MITIGATION 3 Become a carbon neutral organisation 4 Significantly reduce community emissions through engagement, partnership and planning ADAPTATION 5 Identify and plan for climate change risks 6 Adapt to the impacts of climate change ENERGY TRANSITION 7 Reduce oil dependency through innovative measures 8 Maximise and attract investment in low emission and renewable technologies and economies By responding early to the challenges and taking a proactive approach to climate change and peak oil, there is the potential to: Mitigate future climate change threats Minimise risks to the community associated with climate change and peak oil Minimise increased costs to the community associated with carbon pricing and oil price rises Enable the community to capitalise on climate change opportunities and generate economic benefits Identify and create sustainable business investments for Council and the community Reduce whole-of-life costs by considering climate change implications in new Council projects. The Strategy has two supporting documents, the Climate Change Background Study and the Peak Oil Background Study. These documents outline the research and risk analysis that has been undertaken to inform and justify the responses summarised in this Strategy and relevant action plans. The purpose of this Strategy is to: Inform Guide Engage Drive Council planning and operational activities and the Planning Scheme. Council and community decision-making. community and educate stakeholders to respond to climate change and peak oil. a range of actions to deliver upon the goal. Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

8 Key Climate Change Projections for the Sunshine Coast To assist decision-making and support a long-term planning approach, local projections have been identified for the Sunshine Coast to This follows the recommendation by the IPCC to use regionally specific estimates of climate change. These figures are based on the latest scientific evidence that the rate and magnitude of climate change is already being observed at the high end of the range estimated by IPCC (Steffen 2009). The following changes are projected for the Sunshine Coast, relative to 1990: Temperature increase Increase of up to 6.5ºC by 2100 Number of days over 35 C By 2100, extra 30 days per annum Changes to rainfall Reduction in average annual rainfall by 2100 Rainfall events become more intense Sea level rise Projected to rise by 1.1 metres by Tropical cyclones and severe storms Fewer but longer lived cyclones Increase in number of severe storms. By 2070, 140 per cent increase predicted by CSIRO. Acting today to provide our lifestyle for the future. To put these fi gures into context, according to the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Effi ciency, a temperature rise of over 5 C could result in a loss of per cent of core habitat for most native species. An increase in mean sea level is expected to result in an increase in tidal extremes (i.e. higher spring tides and higher storm surges), increasing coastal erosion and threat to coastal environments. These projections will be reviewed over time to incorporate improvements in scientific modelling, and reflect changes to IPCC scenarios and any shifts in greenhouse gas mitigation approaches. 1 The Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014 adopts a sea level rise projection of 0.8 metres by This reflects scientific evidence on sea level rise which became available post the adoption of this policy. 8 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

9 (Areas) responding early to climate change are most likely to better withstand their impacts and maintain a platform for health and prosperity. IPCC, "Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can't afford risk of inaction." (Rupert Murdoch) Source: Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

10 10 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

11 Section 1 Context Action today to protect tomorrow. Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

12 1 Context 1.1 The effects of climate change 'Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identifi ed that persists for decades or longer.' (IPCC 2007). Climate change and peak oil are global issues that pose a very real threat to the Sunshine Coast. It is generally accepted that climate change is a result of the rise in average global temperatures due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere known as the enhanced greenhouse effect. The resulting rise in temperatures and flow-on effects are predicted to result in changed rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, increased frequency and duration of droughts and more severe and frequent weather events such as floods, landslides, storm damage, heatwaves and bushfires. These changes have the potential to adversely affect biodiversity, human health, landscape, economy, agriculture, infrastructure and water supply. Scientific research indicates that, even with a rapid reduction in global emissions, some degree of climate change is inevitable. To project climate change for the 21st century, global climate models have been designed to simulate the global climate under a range of greenhouse gas emission scenarios. The latest scientific evidence indicates that current global greenhouse gas emissions are exceeding the emissions trajectory that is used to forecast the IPCC s worst case scenario for climate change. This implies that climate change risks to vulnerable areas are likely to exceed the worst expectations. The IPCC Fourth Assessment recommends the use of regionally specific estimates of climate change to inform climate change strategy and policy. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has undertaken projections at national, state and regional levels. To provide a local context, projections for the Sunshine Coast have been undertaken by Council through the University of the Sunshine Coast. A combination of projections from the local approach, CSIRO and other levels of government have been used in this Strategy, depending on the availability of information. Table 1 below provides a very high level observation of likely climate change for Queensland. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has based its assessments on global climate modelling, has identified South East Queensland (SEQ) as a hotspot that is increasingly vulnerable to climate change. Table 1: Potential climate change for Queensland Climate change element Specifi c areas/ locations vulnerable? Nature of event s impact Sudden, extreme Cyclones and storm surge Yes Storms (and flooding) Yes Gradual, long term Increasing temps No Heat waves No Decreasing rainfall No Sea level rise Yes Source: LGAQ Adapting to Climate Change A Queensland Local Government Guide 12 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

13 1.2 The cause of climate change 'Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcing, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use.' (IPCC 2007). There is generally international agreement that human activity, which includes the use of fossil fuels, deforestation and land degradation, is the main cause of the rise in greenhouse gas emissions. It is further acknowledged that urgent action is needed to cut emissions to a level that will avoid irreversible climate change. Since the pre-industrial age (commencing in 1750) carbon dioxide concentrations have increased by more than one third, from 280 parts per million to 380 parts per million. This rapid, large release of greenhouse gases has resulted in significant changes in the earth s atmosphere and, consequently, in the global climate. Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) concentration levels in the atmosphere now exceed any CO 2 levels previously recorded, raising concerns about future levels of climate variability. Evidence to support this is provided in Section 2 of the Climate Change Background Study. '... ongoing coastal development and population growth in areas such as Cairns and South East Queensland are projected to exacerbate risks from sea level rise and increases in the severity and frequency of storms and coastal fl ooding by 2050.' (IPCC 2007). Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

14 1.3 Peak oil and energy transition 'Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable. What is needed is nothing short of an energy revolution Securing energy supplies and speeding up the transition to a low-carbon energy system both call for radical action by governments at national and local levels.' (International Energy Agency 2008). Peak oil is another real but lesser known threat to the Sunshine Coast region. Peak oil is when extraction of conventional crude oil from global oil fields reaches its maximum rate, signalling when low cost oil supplies will begin to decline. The majority of projections for the peak of global oil production range between 2008 and Further details to support this are provided in Section 5 of the Peak Oil Background Study. In some parts of the world, oil has already peaked, yet world demand continues to grow especially in China and India. Oil production in Australia peaked in 2000 and Australia is now a net importer of oil from world oil markets. Oil is a vital fossil fuel in the current economy and is used for a wide variety of purposes. From its most common use as fuel for motor vehicles and the aviation industry, to heating homes, growing food, producing asphalt for road surfaces, providing chemical bases for medicines and pharmaceutical products, and producing plastic products. A decline in global oil production threatens to increase fuel prices. It could also potentially increase the reliance on coal and other fossil fuels, as oil substitutes, which would increase carbon dioxide emissions and, in turn, accelerate climate change. Changing our transport options to reduce regional vulnerability to climate change and peak oil. The challenge is to reduce oil and energy consumption and transition to alternative energy sources, such as renewable energy, to ensure local resilience to climate change and peak oil. A transition by the Sunshine Coast region to a less oil and carbon intensive economy will also protect against future oil price spikes and any energy price rise as a result of potential carbon pricing. 14 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

15 1.4 International and Australian Policy The Rio de Janeiro Conference on Sustainable Development in 1992 saw the issue of climate change discussed within an international forum and resulted in several key initiatives including the Kyoto Protocol, which was ratified by the Australian Government in The conference also provided the impetus for industrialised nations to set legally binding goals to minimise greenhouse gas emissions. Other international initiatives include: Improving the scientific understanding of climate change, for example, through IPCC studies and reports Development of international initiatives which, through a range of methods including funding and binding agreements, promote responses to climate change Federal Government initiatives The Federal Government has developed a range of climate change policy responses. It has committed to reducing Australia s greenhouse gas emissions. The National Strategy on Energy Efficiency which was developed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will help to accelerate energy efficiency efforts and help households and businesses prepare for the introduction of any carbon pricing mechanism Queensland State Initiatives The Queensland State Planning Policy requires land use planning to have regard to the implications of coastal erosion, coastal inundation and flooding. Under the Coastal Act, the Queensland Coastal Plan addresses planning in and near coastal locations and encourages the development of coastal management strategies and shoreline erosion management plans. Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

16 1.4.3 South East Queensland Initiatives At a regional level, the SEQ Regional Plan outlines key regional policies to address population growth and management in SEQ. Climate change and oil supply vulnerability are recognised as key policy issues that need to be integrated into planning and social and economic development at the regional and local level. The SEQ Regional Plan recommends the adoption of urban development forms that: Reduce the need to travel Increase provision of active and public transport Improve energy efficiency Increase local provision of renewable energy and low emission technology in urban and rural areas Are more resilient and less vulnerable to natural hazards. Other international, national, state and local initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change and peak oil are listed in the Climate Change Background Study and Peak Oil Background Study (Section 7 and 5 respectively). 16 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

17 1.5 Sunshine Coast Council Policy Context This Strategy is intended to align with Federal, State and Regional initiatives where relevant, while providing local policy provisions to assist with change and innovation at the local level The role of Sunshine Coast Council Sunshine Coast Council recognises it has significant influence over activities responsible for driving human induced local greenhouse gas emissions. These activities include: settlement patterns; transport behaviour; energy generation and usage; waste management; vegetation management; and proximity of population centres to economic activity. It also has influence over the Sunshine Coast s capacity to adapt to climate change through its planning scheme mechanisms and local management plans within the areas of: long term infrastructure and services planning; total water cycle management; building style and urban form; land use, open space and transport planning; agriculture and natural landscape conservation. While Council is required to comply with government policy, it has an advocacy role and can assist by supporting policy changes relating to climate change and peak oil across all government levels. By continuing to strengthen partnerships with government agencies and research institutions it can share knowledge and ensure effective implementation of the Strategy. Council can also play a lead role in influencing community behavioural change, however, success depends on the support and involvement of community stakeholders. Council can inform and engage, develop and build on existing partnerships with the business and wider community. It can also tap into local knowledge and leverage off existing community initiatives geared to tackle the impacts of climate change and peak oil. The Sunshine Coast was the location for the fi rst community driven initiative in Australia under the International Transition Towns movement - delivering Australia s fi rst energy descent action plan. Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

18 1.5.2 Sunshine Coast Council Corporate Plan The Sunshine Coast Council has adopted a Corporate Plan that identifies Council priorities for the next five years and beyond. It guides Council s decision-making, budget, operations and resource allocations to achieve the vision To be Australia s most sustainable region vibrant, green, diverse. The Corporate Plan identifies the following eight themes: Robust economy Ecological sustainability Innovation and creativity Health and well being Social cohesion Accessibility and connectedness Managing growth Great governance. 2 2 Sunshine Coast Council has adopted a new Corporate Plan post the adoption of this Strategy in Refer to Council's website for updated details. 18 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

19 1.5.3 Policy context Based on the priorities outlined in the Corporate Plan, the Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy is a fundamental policy direction under Council s Ecological Sustainability Framework. Integration of the Strategy will be required across all aspects of council planning and decision making as well as other key strategic documents such as those identified in Table 2. The Corporate Plan sets the direction for the Sunshine Coast Council to become a carbon neutral organisation. This Strategy sets a target date to reach carbon neutrality by 2020 to correspond with the Federal and State 2020 mid-term target dates for emissions reduction and Council s desire to be a leader in this field. The Corporate Plan also identifies the need for energy transition initiatives. This Strategy sets a target to reduce its dependence on oil derived products by 5 per cent each year (e.g. crude oil based fuels used in fleet vehicles), commencing in 2010/2021, following a formal inventory of Council s oil consumption. 3 Three supporting documents will be developed, as an output of the Strategy, to help achieve targets and further refine and direct other key responses included within the relevant action plans: Carbon Neutral Plan (for the organisation) Energy Transition Plan (for Council and the Sunshine Coast community) Community Emissions Reduction Plan. Table 2: Sunshine Coast Council: Key strategic documents Activities Climate Change Peak Oil and Energy Transition Corporate Plan Community Plan Planning Scheme/Structure Plans Sustainable Transport Strategy Rural Futures Strategy Waterways and Coastal Foreshores Management Strategy Social Planning Framework Cultural Strategy Community Engagement Framework Open Space Strategy Long Term Financial Plan Safe Plan Safety Management System Disaster Management Plan Biodiversity Strategy Flooding and Stormwater Management Strategy Affordable Living Strategy Economic Development Strategy Waste Minimisation Strategy Health and Wellbeing Strategy 3 This target aligns with the average rate of decline in global oil fields according to the International Energy Agency Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

20 20 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

21 Section 2 Local Projections Global issue, local change. Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

22 2 Climate change projections for the Sunshine Coast The Strategy acknowledges that there are varying degrees of certainty and uncertainty associated with the science due to the complex nature of climate change. To help address this issue, local climate change projections have been modelled to enhance the understanding of local climate change implications and to assist in Council decision-making. Sunshine Coast Council has undertaken a local assessment through the University of the Sunshine Coast, utilising a climate simulation tool, SimCLIM. Local climate variables have been adjusted to reflect the patterns associated with a global climate model, using the worst case IPCC climate change scenario and high climate sensitivity. These local variables acknowledge that global greenhouse gas emissions now exceed the high end of the scenarios utilised by the IPCC. Long term local climate change projections to 2100 were determined, relative to 1990, acknowledging there is a degree of uncertainty with long-term projections. Where data was not available, projections from CSIRO and other levels of government have been utilised. Further details and analysis are provided in the Climate Change Background Study (Section 4). The Sunshine Coast projections will be reviewed and modified to incorporate improved scientific modelling as science becomes more sophisticated and reflect changes to IPCC scenarios and shifts in greenhouse gas mitigation approaches. 2.1 Temperature Fewer cold days and more hot days are expected as a result of climate change, with associated shifts in annual and seasonal means and extremes. It is predicted that by 2100, there will be an extra 30 days experiencing temperatures over 35 C and warming across the region, with annual mean temperatures expected to increase by: up to 1 C by 2020 up to 2 C by 2050 up to 4 C by 2075 up to 6.5 C by To put these fi gures into context, the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Effi ciency suggests a temperature rise of over 5 C could result in a loss of per cent of remnant bushland. 22 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

23 2.2 Rainfall Average annual rainfall volumes are projected to decline across the Sunshine Coast. Modelling indicates seasonal shifts, with rainfall increasing in winter but decreasing in other seasons. In addition, more intense rainfall events are expected, increasing the potential for flooding (further complicated by sea level rise). 2.3 Sea level rise Sea levels are expected to rise. The Queensland Coastal Plan has identified sea level projections for Queensland based on the IPCC Fourth Assessment. In 2009, the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency report Climate Change Risks to Australia s Coast A First Pass National Assessment for Australia identified national projections based on the high end scenario in the IPCC Fourth Assessment and included new evidence on icesheet dynamics. That report indicates that the use of a high end IPCC scenario for decision making is justified. As it represents the latest information in climate science relative to sea level rise at the time of publication, the projections in the First Pass National Assessment have been adopted. These figures are adopted until a higher sea level projection is announced by the IPCC, in which case they will be superceded. up 0.2 metres by 2030 up 0.7 metres by 2070 up 1.1 metres by An increase in mean sea level is expected to result in an associated increase in tidal extremes (i.e. higher spring tides and higher storm surges). Justification for the sea level rise is provided in Section 4.3 of the Climate Change Background Study. 4 The Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014 adopts a sea level rise projection of 0.8 metres by This reflects scientific evidence on sea level rise which became available post the adoption of this policy. Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

24 2.4 Wind CSIRO has evaluated climate change influences on average wind speeds for eastern Australia. According to their results, wind speeds are projected to increase with dominant synoptic systems expected to intensify and generate stronger winds. Impacts are likely to increase (Hennessey et. al. 2006). Risk Changing Climatic Factor Impact Wind 25 per cent increase of peak wind speed above knots 650 per cent increase in building damages. 2.5 Cyclones and severe storms CSIRO modelling projections indicate that there will be fewer but longer lived cyclones tracking further south. The same modelling by CSIRO predicts a 60 per cent increase in the number of severe storms by 2030, with a 140 per cent increase in the number of severe storms by Data associated with storm surge and wave action on the Sunshine Coast requires further evaluation. 24 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

25 2.6 Hail CSIRO has projected that there will be a change in large hail risk for SEQ indicating an increased risk of large hail storms for the Sunshine Coast. 2.7 Droughts and bushfires As a result of increasing temperature and declining rainfall it is expected that droughts will become more frequent and last longer than droughts currently experienced, with an increased risk of bushfire. Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

26 26 Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy

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