Bendigo faces a temperature increase of 0.6-1.3 degrees over the next twelve years.
More hot days, drier weather and longer, more severe fire seasons are likely to become common.
An “urban forest” within Bendigo forms part of council’s plans to combat the consequences of this change.
State government projects show the Loddon-Mallee’s average temperatures could increase by up to 1.3 degrees by 2030.
By 2070 mean temperatures could be 1.2-3.3 degrees warmer than those between 1986 and 2005, depending on future emissions.
But what does this actually mean?
More hot days, a longer fire season and harsher fire weather are all predicted across the region.
As warming progresses, evaporation would increase in all seasons.
Average temperatures have already increased by 1.2-1.4 degrees in the southern part of the Loddon-Mallee since 1950.
For Bendigo, the city could expect to have a climate more similar to Shepparton, Kyabram and Echuca by 2050 under a high emissions scenario.
The city experiences 13 days above 35 degrees a year right now. This is likely to increase to 19 days a year by 2030.
By 2070, Bendigo could suffer nearly a month of such scorchers every year. Under a high emissions scenario, the city could expect 29 days a year where the mercury exceeds 35 degrees.
Low emissions would still see Bendigo experience 23 days above 35 degrees each year by 2070.
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The City of Greater Bendigo’s Environment Strategy has several projects to address these changes.
However, the council does not have an overarching strategy for adapting to change.
Acting regional sustainable development manager Wonona Fuzzard said both the council’s Community Plan and the Greater Bendigo Environment Strategy aimed to protect and enhance the city’s environment, conserve resources, and increase resilience to changing climate.
“Climate change considerations are continually being incorporated into strategies, policies, daily actions and into service,” she said.
“This is currently a work in progress for all local governments and Bendigo will need to play its part with the state and federal governments’ directions and policies on the effects of climate change.”
Strategies to combat the effects of climate change on the city included a Heatwave Help project, which saw more than 60 retrofits for vulnerable home support clients to reduce the effect of heat and cold in their homes.
As part of its Environment Strategy, the council has committed to increasing vegetation cover across Bendigo, to reduce heat islands and to improve community health.
The strategy also recommended the city work with partners to plan for long-term water security in the face of forecasted dry weather.
Action for conservation and restoration of natural environments is also part of the strategy.
Ms Fuzzard said a draft review of the Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme due to go before council this month would include recommendations about how to provide a local response to climate change.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning acting community and partnerships program manager Erin Baxter said the state’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan would meet the challenge of helping people become more resilient to climate change.
“DELWP is working with the CSIRO to get more localised climate change predictions for the Loddon-Mallee so we can create a regional climate adaptation plan,” she said.
“As we know, the Loddon-Mallee region is getting hotter and drier as well as experiencing more extreme weather events.”
Innovation grants from the department have funded two projects on the ground to increase community resilience to climate change.
Agriculture, infrastructure, waterways, tourism, biodiversity and health will all be affected by climate change, according to Mount Alexander Shire Mayor Bronwen Machin.
She said the council worked with community groups and organisations, and was an active member of the Municipal Fire Management Planning Committee.
For the Loddon Shire, droughts are likely to be the most significant potential effect of climate change.
“As the agricultural industry is the single largest sector within Loddon Shire, the impact on residents will be most significantly felt through any impact on that sector,” a council representative said.
“It is important that this sector receives the support that it needs to adjust to the impacts that may be felt by climate change.”
Central Goldfields Shire Council addresses climate change in its Sustainability Action Plan.
Its actions include flood mitigation works, implementation of bushfire management overlays and the Cool It project.
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