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Climate change and its impacts

International scientific consensus is that climate change is occurring, and it is driven by anthropogenic causes, with human activities having a profound impact on the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions since the start of the industrial revolution. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an international body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC has found:

“It is extremely likely [95–100%] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

In Australia, the 2020 Bureau of Meteorology State of the Climate Report notes that Australia continues to experience increases to sea and air temperatures, sea level rises and ocean acidification, along with an observed decrease in winter rainfall in the southwest of Australia of around 20% since 1970.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth, and even in the absence of climate change is characterised by variability and extremes. With the impacts of climate change projected to place additional stress on our natural and human systems, there is an urgent need to address climate change.

For the City of Fremantle, projected changes to our climate in the future include:

  • Further increase in temperatures, with more extremely hot days and fewer extremely cool days
  • More heat waves that will be longer and hotter
  • More frequent, extensive, intensive and longer lasting marine heatwaves
  • Ongoing sea level rise
  • Increased severe coastal erosion events
  • Further warming and acidification of the oceans;
  • A decrease in cool season rainfall
  • More frequent, longer and more intense droughts
  • More intense heavy rainfall throughout Australia, particularly for short duration extreme rainfall events (storms)
  • An increase in the number of high fire weather danger days and a longer fire season
  • Through a combination of many of these impacts, changes to biodiversity including increased species extinction.

These changes will have impacts on our environment, our infrastructure and assets, and our community. In response to these impacts, in May 2019 Fremantle Council declared that the world is in a state of climate and biodiversity emergency and in March 2021 they adopted the Climate Emergency Position Statement (detailed below). Further actions that the City of Fremantle have taken to address climate change and its impacts are detailed here.

Declaration of Climate Emergency

In May 2019 Fremantle Council unanimously supported a letter from the Fremantle Youth Network and declared that the world is in a state of climate and biodiversity emergency.

The declaration states that the City of Fremantle is committed to working towards a safe climate for all, allowing both communities and the environment to flourish in the present day and into the future. 

As of November 2020, an estimated 1,833 jurisdictions in 31 countries have declared a climate emergency and 40 Local Governments in Western Australia have signed the WALGA Climate Change Declaration, representing 65% of WA’s population.

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City of Fremantle Climate Emergency Position Statement

Following community feedback received and outlined in a climate change engagement report presented to council in March 2021, council adopted the City of Fremantle Climate Emergency Position Statement.

The City of Fremantle acknowledges the science-based recommendations in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that outline the severity of the state of emergency we are in, including that the City of Fremantle is likely to be substantially affected by climate impacts, particularly sea level rise, heat waves, drought and floods.

The City acknowledges that the situation requires urgent action by all levels of government. The City calls upon the State and Federal Governments to acknowledge that there is an emergency and to act accordingly, to rapidly decrease and drawdown greenhouse gas emissions. Any action should align with the Paris Agreement, which aims to cap global heating at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The best and most efficient way to achieve the rapid emissions reductions required to avert catastrophic climate change is for the federal government to reinstate a market-based mechanism for controlling the release of greenhouse gas emissions, such as an emissions trading scheme. In the absence of this, the Western Australian State Government should build on its existing climate change policy to establish a clear state strategy with a well-defined pathway to state-wide net zero-carbon before 2050.

The strategy should include a target of 100% renewable energy by 2030, in line with the minimum targets of other states, and additional targets set at regular interviews to ensure we are on track to meet our decarbonisation goals.

In addition to acting urgently to reduce emissions, action is needed to climate proof our communities. Support is needed for addressing local climate change impacts including coastal erosion, conservation of heritage buildings, worse storms, increased drought impacts and heatwaves.

Most importantly, the City of Fremantle urges all levels of government to base climate change policy on science, including publishing and promoting sound, peer-reviewed research as the basis for climate change positions and strategy.

The City will continue to demonstrate corporate responsibility and leadership in its operations, and its promotion of low carbon living.

Local Government Climate Change Declaration

The City of Fremantle is a signatory of the Local Government Climate Change Declaration. This Declaration stands as a voluntary opportunity for councils to demonstrate their political commitment to locally appropriate climate change management, and to participate in a sector wide leadership approach.

The Declaration is consistent with the intent of the Western Australian Local Government Association's endorsed Climate Change Policy Statement, and it was endorsed at the August 2011 meeting of State Council.

WALGA climate change policy statement

Local Government acknowledges:

  1. The science is clear: climate change is occurring and greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are the dominant cause.
  2. Climate change threatens human societies and the Earth’s ecosystems.
  3. Urgent action is required to reduce emissions, and to adapt to the impacts from climate change that are now unavoidable.
  4. A failure to adequately address this climate change emergency places an unacceptable burden on future generations.

Local government is committed to addressing climate change. Local government is calling for:

  1. Strong climate change action, leadership and coordination at all levels of government.
  2. Effective and adequately funded Commonwealth and State Government climate change policies and programs.

Further information on climate change

Actions that the City of Fremantle have taken to address climate change and its impacts are detailed here.

Links to other information sources and groups:

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