COUNCILS need "much more" support from the state amid predictions of increased heatwaves and bushfires, Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance's head says.
The comments come ahead of Rob Law's appearance at a Bendigo hearing of a parliamentary inquiry into how communities can tackle climate change.
Councils grappling with predicted climate conditions are concerned state grant funding is too ad-hoc and piecemeal, even if it is often seen as the most straightforward way for state governments to put money forward, Mr Law said in his group's written submission to the inquiry.
He cited research suggesting a $10 billion Australian fund would be needed to help local governments fund flexible projects over 10 years - $1.5 billion of which would be needed for Victoria.
"However, it is likely this figure is very conservative given the high population within Victoria," Mr Law said.
The money could help councils improve services in the face of extreme weather events, decarbonise their economies and upgrade infrastructure to help during heatwaves.
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The City of Greater Bendigo will also appear at Thursday's hearing.
Its mayor wants clear and consistent directions from state and federal governments.
"Without this, climate change policy remains at the peril of short-term politics," Margaret O'Rourke wrote in the council's submission.
Cities like Bendigo's could be "living labs" for ideas, because they had cultures of collaboration and many had progressive stances on climate change, Cr O'Rourke said.
"Over recent years, the City of Greater Bendigo's staff have registered an increasing level of concern amongst the community about climate change, as weather events previously thought of as extreme become more commonplace and sobering statistics about species decline become available," she said.
"There is a need for support for local governments to build capacity to assist communities that are experiencing climate grief and anxiety."
Councils could make better long term planning decisions about climate change with better data from government, Cr O'Rourke said.
There is already "broad acknowledgement" communities are facing climate change's impacts, Mr Law said.
"This is not about challenges 'in the future'. The region has already experienced extreme events that have had a significant impact on communities and local economies, including floods, drought and extreme heat," Mr Law said.
He cited Ramp Up Resilience, a program led by Make A Change Australia to help communities come up with ways to be more resilient as climate change made itself felt.
That group's director, who will also give evidence on Thursday, said her program had enormous potential to grow if invested in properly.
"If the government is looking to support communities to tackle climate change, they (sic) need to be smart and invest in organisations that are already doing this work," Karen Corr said.
The Bendigo Sustainability Group and Wimmera-Mallee Sustainability Alliance are also expected to give evidence on Thursday.
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