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Setting a strong foundation for climate change action

Climate change policy in Victoria
Leadership on climate change

The Victorian Government is committed to positioning Victoria as a leader in climate change, by reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

The government is setting a strong foundation through legislation and programs that will:

  • Develop skills and jobs, and modernise our economy for a clean energy future
  • Protect Victorians' health and enhance the state's liveability
  • Conserve our natural environment and reduce air pollution

The government has committed to legislate a long-term target for Victoria of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This target aligns with the Paris commitment by 195 countries to keep global warming well below 2 degrees from pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. It also provides Victoria with enough flexibility and time for a just, orderly and low-cost transition.

An emissions reduction target is a recommendation of the Independent Review of the Victorian Climate Change Act 2010, which the Victorian Government commissioned in 2015 to ensure Victoria has the strong legislation it needs to take action to combat climate change.

The Victorian Government is also introducing TAKE2 a multi-sector pledging program to reduce emissions and help set Victoria on the pathway to achieve our 2050 target. For information, visit the TAKE2 website. This pledge program was another recommendation of the Independent Review of the Climate Change Act 2010 (see below).

Climate Change Act

Climate Change Act (2010) Review

The Victorian Government's first step in restoring Victoria's leadership in climate change action was to commission a review of the Victorian Climate Change Act 2010, to ensure Victoria has a sound legislative foundation for taking action on climate change.

The review was conducted by an Independent Review Committee chaired by Martijn Wilder AM, with members Ms Anna Skarbek and Professor Rosemary Lyster. All three members are highly regarded and possess extensive legislative and climate change expertise.

The independent review was undertaken over a 6-month period in 2015 and included a public submissions process with input from a broad range of stakeholders, including the community, business, government and non-government sectors. The review received more than 1600 submissions.

The Independent Review Committee handed its report on the review of the Climate Change Act 2010 to the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water in December 2015.  It was tabled in Parliament by the Minister in February 2016.

The review made 33 recommendations to strengthen the Act so it can provide a strong foundation for Victorian action on climate change.

The Victorian Government's response to the review sets out the government's acceptance of the vast majority of the committee's recommendations and its intention to provide Victoria with a world-leading legislative foundation for its climate change agenda into the future. 

Through the response, the Government will:

  • legislate a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, supported by a process for setting interim targets every five years to ensure the long-term target is met;
  • develop five yearly Victorian Climate Change Strategies that incorporate both mitigation and adaptation;
  • work in partnership with local government, community and business to pledge specific actions to reduce emissions, now and into the future; and
  • develop integrated Adaptation Action Plans for key climate exposed sectors.

Implementing the recommendations of the review will provide Victoria with the legislative framework we need to deliver a strong and safe future for Victoria.

A Bill to amend the Climate Change Act 2010 in line with the Government Response is anticipated to be introduced to Parliament in late 2016.

More information can be found here

The Government Response documents are available below.

Victorian Government Response: Independent Review of the Climate Change Act 2010 [PDF File - 195.5 KB]

Victorian Government Response: Independent Review of the Climate Change Act 2010
[MS Word Document - 765.1 KB]

The Independent Review Committee report and summary document are attached below.

Independent Review of the Climate Change Act 2010 - summary [PDF File - 58.1 KB]

Independent Review of the Climate Change Act 2010 [PDF File - 679.6 KB]

Accessible versions will be made available shortly 

Click here for more information.

Emissions Reduction Target
Victoria's Emissions Reduction Target - Net Zero by 2050

The Victorian Government has committed to legislating a long-term target for Victoria of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is a significant step towards restoring Victoria's status as a leader and model for other governments in tackling climate change.

This net zero target means that by 2050 Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced as far as possible and any remaining emissions will be balanced through activities like planting trees or capturing more carbon in the ocean and coastal ecosystems. This target provides Victoria with the flexibility and time for a just, orderly and low-cost transition.

A net zero 2050 emissions reduction target for Victoria helps to provide long term certainty for investment and guide the important transitions ahead for our economy, industries, cities and regions. Ensuring we are at the forefront of the global transition to a low carbon economy will help us seize the economic opportunities that this presents.

Victoria is well positioned to draw on the employment and economic benefits that a low-carbon economy will bring. We have some of the best renewable energy resources in the world, including wind, solar and wave power. Along with a highly skilled workforce, we also have the innovation, research and development capabilities to become leaders in renewable technology in the Asia Pacific region. The Victorian Renewable Energy Target and Action Plan are an example of how the Victorian Government will transition to a low carbon economy. 

Five yearly interim targets

Making the transition to a low carbon economy is a big change that requires careful timing and management. To ensure this important and ambitious target is reached, we will set five yearly interim emissions reduction targets.

Interim targets will give us an opportunity to plot our pathway to net zero.

Our long-term emissions reduction target and the accompanying five yearly interim targets are the first step in creating certainty for climate action in Victoria. They will drive government policy and programs across all portfolios, and facilitate action from all Victorians to ensure we achieve our goals.

TAKE2 – Victoria’s Climate Change Pledge
TAKE2

The Victorian Government is introducing TAKE2 a multi-sector, state-wide pledging program to reduce emissions and help set Victoria on the pathway to achieve our 2050 target. This pledge program is a recommendation of the Independent Review of the Victorian Climate Change Act (see above).

TAKE2 will showcase the great work already being done across state and local government, business and community to reduce emissions, and will consolidate this as the springboard for Victoria's ongoing long term transition to a low carbon economy.

Victorians are invited to visit the pledge website here and register their commitment to be a part of the process of helping Victoria reach net zero by 2050.

Acting on climate change is a shared responsibility and the Victorian Government will play its part by committing to mandatory pledges across every government department and key sectors of the economy.

Government operational pledges

All Victorian Government departments will make pledges that include actions to reduce emissions within their department. This will contribute to one whole-of-government pledge for emissions reductions. This will ensure our offices, fleet and assets are as energy efficient as possible and that our employees are driving behaviour change in their day-to-day activities.  

Sector pledges

The Victorian Government will also make pledges to reduce emissions across a number of key sectors, these include energy, agriculture, transport and waste management.

These pledges will ensure that our short and long-term planning and policy decisions don't lock us in to energy intensive practices, but instead, move towards low-emissions industries and technologies. Examples of the types of policies that will be considered can be found in  the energy sector, where government has already released the Renewable Energy Roadmap, Energy Efficiency and Productivity Statement, and New Energy Technology Strategy, and have provided funding to two pioneering community solar projects.

Victoria's Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2017-2020

Victoria's Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2017-2020 [PDF File - 5.1 MB] lays out the government's plan of action for the next four years, to help  our state to meet the challenges and act on the opportunities of climate change.

The Adaptation Plan will:

  • Build a detailed understanding of Victoria's exposure to climate change risks and impacts
  • Catalyse partnerships for integrated and effective responses to climate change
  • Tackle immediate priorities to reduce climate change risks

It will help us all play our part and work together to achieve our vision of a thriving natural  environment and a healthy, prosperous, safe and vibrant place to work and live for all Victorians, and for the thousands of visitors we welcome each year.

State and local government - working together

Local Government Climate Change Mentors

Climate change affects all aspects of the operations of a local government and its delivery of services to the community.

The Victorian Government established the Climate Change Mentors pilot project to help local governments across Victoria to better understand the impact and opportunities of climate change on their delivery of services to the community and their own operations, helping councils and the community become more resilient.  

The Mentors delivered this support through: 

  • training and capacity building for senior staff of councils - four Enhancing Local Government Service Delivery courses that included climate change considerations, with accompanying scholarships
  • development of this website to be a useful information hub for Sate and local governments 
  • translating science and policy language into practical and tangible information for the different audiences within local government
  • providing a conduit into the State Government's climate change policy development

The initiative was a two-year pilot project, which began in July 2014 and concluded end-June 2016. 

Financial support

Victorian Government grants have been allocated to councils across the state, helping increase understanding and action on climate change at a local level, and encouraging collaboration between government and other supporting organisations, such as the greenhouse alliances and the research community.

The Victorian Climate Change Grants 2015 are designed to assist local government to deal with the most vulnerable local sectors in adapting to climate change.

The grants will also help drive local climate change action including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making effective and innovative decisions on how to increase resilience of services and assets.

The Victorian Climate Change Grants 2015 total $1.15 million and consist of a competitive round of grants of $20,000 to $80,000 open to all councils and a non-competitive round of grants of up to $10,000 aimed at resource-constrained councils.

Recipients of the Victorian Climate Change Grants 2015 have been announced. In all, 45-council driven projects have received a grant. 

Some of the examples of projects supported by these grants include:

  • Moreland Shire Council's Working together to cool communities project to minimise the urban heat island effect;
  • City of Greater Geelong's shoreline protection of erodible coasts project to mitigate storm tide impacts;
  • East Gippsland Shire Council's renewable energy feasibility project to investigate innovative scenarios and technologies for renewable energy use;
  • Towong Shire Council's "Banking on our Solar Future" – innovation for resilient technologies project to deliver a demonstration solar bank;
  • Hepburn Shire Council's "Climate Resilient Recreation Facilities" project to develop strategies that minimise climate change impacts on council's recreation facilities; and
  • Campaspe Shire Council's "Community Clubs Combat Climate Change" project to protect community recreation reserves from climate change impacts.

Climate Change and the Resilient Melbourne Strategy

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (and other state government departments) supports the Resilient Melbourne project, hosted by the City of Melbourne in collaboration with the 31 other councils that make up Greater Melbourne.

The project is led by a Chief Resilience Officer who has been funded by the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Resilient Melbourne marks an important point in Melbourne's development and brings together individuals and organisations critical to the resilience of Melbourne and its diverse communities. The Resilient Melbourne Strategy offers a new way to address the chronic stresses and acute shocks we are likely to experience, such as climate change, and to achieve a vision of a city that is viable, sustainable, liveable and prosperous, today and long into the future.

More information, and a copy of the Resilient Melbourne Strategy, can be found here

Local governments and climate change

Climate Change represents one of the greatest economic, social and environmental challenges of our time.

Impacts of climate change are already being experienced across Victoria, including more frequent and more intense bushfires, drought, lower rainfall but more flash flooding, and coastal erosion.

These impacts vary across the state and each local community will have its own unique experiences and reactions to these changes (for more information, see the Being Climate-Ready brochures here). 

Standing on the frontline of climate change action in Victoria are local governments.

As the tier of government closest to the community, local government is a significant contributor to the Victorian economy and is a critical delivery partner for the state government in improving the lives of Victorians. Councils:

  • Employ over 50,000 people
  • Spend more than $7 billion on service delivery and $2 billion on infrastructure annually
  • Manage over $70 billion in public assets, including 44,350 parks and reserves, over 15,000 sporting facilities, 85% of Victoria's roads and bridges, and major buildings such as libraries, town halls and health centres.

(For a further snapshot of Victorian local government, see Local Government Victoria's Know Your Council website, or the Municipal Association of Victoria website). 

Councils are factoring the impact of climate change into planning and delivery of services and are leading the way in areas including:

  • Health and food safety
  • Human and community services
  • Planning and building control
  • Business and economic development
  • Waste and environmental management

A good understanding of the impacts of climate change on key services helps councils to consider them during their decision making, and helps reduce possible risks to a council's own operations and to their communities.

Rather than operate in silos, the key to tackling climate change effectively is to work horizontally and vertically; taking a whole-of-council approach to embed climate change considerations in existing council plans and strategies, and working collaboratively with other councils, the state government, communities, NGOs and businesses.

Proactive planning also allows councils to identify opportunities within their communities, especially related to jobs, economic development, community health and wellbeing and the natural environment. See the Useful adaptation resources section below for more information.

Check out the short introductory animation below, highlighting the role of Victoria's local governments in tackling climate change in Victoria.

Climate change action

Local government's response to climate change requires a dual approach: mitigation and adaptation. The two activities are complementary and should be considered simultaneously.

Mitigation

Mitigation activities help manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Search the Energy section of this website for information and examples of council mitigation activities.

The state government has recently launched a pledge program to encourage immediate action to reduce emissions across Victoria and to help position Victoria's economy in the global shift towards decarbonisation.

Pledges are being made across state government operations, key sectors of the economy, local government, business and community.

Councils are invited to visit Take2.vic.gov.au and register their commitment to help Victoria reach net zero by 2050.

Adaptation

Adaptation initiatives help adjust existing activities and practices so that vulnerability to potential impacts of  climate change are reduced and opportunities realised.

Search the Action areas of this website for information and examples of council adaptation activities.

Map of climate change projects

By sharing ideas and projects within and between councils, and by continuing to work with the state government, Victoria will become a leader in addressing the impacts of climate change.

A map of state-local government partnership projects is available here that showcases both mitigation and adaptation projects from across Victoria.

Useful adaptation resources

Inglis, J., Whittaker, S., Dimitriadis, A. and Pillora, S. 2014. Climate Adaptation Manual for Local Government – Embedding resilience to climate change, volume 1. Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, University of Technology, Sydney.

Download here [PDF File - 2.7 MB]

Inglis, J., Whittaker, S., Dimitriadis, A. and Pillora, S. 2014. Climate Adaptation Manual for Local Government – Embedding resilience to climate change, volume 2 (case studies). Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, University of Technology, Sydney.

Download here [PDF File - 4.4 MB]

Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit

Download here [PDF File - 1.9 MB]