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The Tweed’s wildlife, waterways, coastlines, utilities, infrastructure, businesses and communities have the potential to be affected by the impacts of climate change.

Tweed Shire Council aims to meet the challenges and embrace climate-friendly solutions in three ways:

Raising awareness - building a strong knowledge base in the local community about individual, community and local government roles in addressing climate change.

Reducing emissions - reducing operational emissions through the delivery of energy and fuel efficiency measures, investing in renewable energy technologies and facilitating low carbon lifestyles in the local community

Preparing for change - identifying and responding to the range of environmental, social and economic pressures that climate change and associated policy responses will pose to Tweed Shire Council and the community it serves.

Raising Awareness

Electricity in homes and businesses, transport fuels and waste are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions from across the Tweed. From these major sources of emissions, it is estimated that we each create emissions equivalent to at least 9 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year. This is important information to help identify the local and global solutions that can bring our emissions into balance with solutions that remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Major Greenhouse Gas Emissions Sources 2016

Tweed Shire Council calculated the carbon footprint of the Tweed to meet its requirements under the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (external link). Over 7,500 councils worldwide have also signed up to the covenant, which represents more than 686 billion people taking steps to measure, report and put solutions in place in response to climate change.

Visit the Australian Greenhouse Calculator (external link) to work out your household’s carbon footprint, and explore how your lifestyle contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Check out Council’s Energy , Waste and Transport pages for ideas to help reduce your emissions.

Reducing Local Emissions

Since 2003 Tweed Shire Council has used the Local Action Plan for Greenhouse Gas Reduction (659kB PDF) to monitor and reduce emissions from its own operations while providing education and support for community emission reduction. Visit Sustainable Operations to find out more.

Changing climate conditions

North Coast Climate Change Snapshot 2014 cropped The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their Fifth Assessment Report in 2014. Thousands of scientists from over 195 countries contributed to the report which found greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are the highest in history, are influencing the climate system and having widespread impacts on human and natural systems.

The report says:

'Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, inccreasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.'

A snapshot of climate change in the North Coast produced in 2014 by the Office of Environment and Heritage, in partnership with the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales suggests:

  • maximum temperatures are projected to increase in the near future (2020 - 2039) by 0.4 - 1.0oC, and increase in the far future (2060 - 2079) by 1.5 - 2.4oC
  • minimum temperatures are projected to increase in the near future by 0.5 - 1.0oC, and increase in the far future by 1.6 - 2.5oC
  • the number of hot days will increase
  • the number of cold nights will decrease- rainfall is projected to decrease in winter and increase in autumn and spring
  • average fire weather is projected to increase in summer and spring
  • severe fire weather days are project to increase in summer and spring

Climate Change Adaptation

Preparing the North Coast region for the impacts of climate change is imperative. Six major themes are key factors in the resilience of the North Coast to current and future climate impacts:
  1. The narrow coastal plain, and sensitivity to changes in flooding and sea level rise
  2. Population demographics and change
  3. Infrastructure and settlements exposed to current and future climate impacts
  4. Regional networks, making them strong and effective
  5. Leadership across government, business and the community for an adaptive region
  6. Funding models and priorities, including increasing cost pressures and revenue losses

(external link) Click here (external link) to find out more about the 2016 North Coast Integrated Regional Vulnerability Assessment

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity of existing climate related risks: sea level rise, storm surge, increased temperature, rainfall changes and extreme weather events. Adaptation is needed now because the climate is already changing, due to past greenhouse gas emissions that have ‘locked in’ the climatic changes forecast for our region.

As many of Council’s decisions and assets have an impact or design life of 50 to 100 years, future climate conditions need to be taken into account as a current issue, rather than as a future consideration.

The 2009 Byron and Tweed Shire Councils Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan identifies the assets and activities that are sensitive climate change and action needed to respond to:
  • the introduction of exotic plant, animal and insect species
  • loss of biodiversity
  • habitat displacement
  • increased flood level and frequency
  • higher evaporation and longer drought
  • effect on freshwater supply
  • coastal erosion
  • impacts on coastal development
  • decline in the local economy
  • increased bushfire events
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