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This position statement outlines the actions Perth Hills Climate Change Interest Group (PHCCIG) is calling the Local Government Authorities (LGAs) in the Perth Hills to commit to with respect to their climate emergency policies and action plans. The recommended mitigation and adaptation measures are specific to the Perth Hills and the targets are informed by sound science

LGAs in the Perth Hills include

  • Shire of Mundaring
  • City of Kalamunda
  • Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale
  • City of Armadale
  • City of Swan
  • Shire of Murray

The PHCCIG advocates:

  • A commitment to (emissions) mitigation targets informed by sound science
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies specific to the Perth Hills
  • Ambition targets based on the international scientific consensus
  • A vision for a carbon neutral future
  • Rigorous, evidence-based, goal setting, assessment and reporting

We call on the Perth Hills LGAs to address the climate change risks that are specific to the Perth Hills, in particular:

  • Bushfire risk
  • Air pollution
  • Decreasing rainfall and run-off
  • Heat dangers to wellbeing
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Food insecurity
  • Storm intensity increase

We, the members of the PHCCIG, which is a network of people across the Perth Hills, like most Australians[i] rate climate change as a personal, local and global problem and we want action.

In this paper we discuss (1) concerns about climate risks and opportunities that are particular to the Perth Hills; (2) leadership, planning and implementation priorities, and (3), and mitigation and adaptation priorities.

1. Our concerns. The Perth Hills is a high climate risk area, particularly with respect to bush fires and biodiversity loss.  The increasing experience, and future risk, of catastrophic bush fires is acutely (and for many – traumatically) experienced by people who live in the Perth Hills[ii] . Due to the increasing fire risk, people in the Perth Hills are concerned that their homes may become uninsurable, particularly given some are already having insurance quotation requests declined, and many now, following the 2011 Roleystone, 2014 Parkerville, and 2021 Wooroloo bushfires, are charged much higher premiums .

Other high risks in the Perth Hills include the mental health risks associated with ecological grief[iii], the physical health risks associated with fire and heat waves, and pollution (petrol and diesel vehicle pollution, and bushfire and burn off pollution) risks to our local families, businesses and government assets and infrastructure, and risks to future generations.

The loss of trees and an increase in temperature in urban areas is a particular concern.  The heat island effect, particularly in the foothills where there are housing estates with few or no trees, is also a significant health risk to adult and child health, as is the risk to native insects, birds and a diversity of other native species due to the loss of habitat in tree canopies and bushland fragments.

Decreased rainfall and changing patterns of rainfall (with an increase in ‘dumping rain’ events), are a risk to our groundwater and drinking water supplies, particularly for the many households and small businesses in the Hills that are not connected to mains water.  Sediment flow into our streams and rivers is also becoming an increasing problem. The sheer volume of groundwater extraction by mines in the Perth Hills is unsustainable in a climate changed world, and unjust.

Food insecurity, particularly the increased cost of food, and regular supply, is a significant local and global climate change risk, particularly for those on low incomes. Strategies to promote self-sufficiency in food production are recommended.

The cost of building for fire safely and extreme heat in the hills, particularly with respect to re-building and repairs for people who lose their homes in bushfires, and the replacement by local governments and local businesses of assets damaged by heat and fire, are a considerable financial risk. 

We need action, as a matter of urgency, to ensure the climate risk to our natural environment, our health, our homes, our children and grand-children, our businesses and government services, and our assets and infrastructure, are reduced and managed through mitigation and adaption. 

2. With respect to leadership and planning priorities, which include measuring results, engagement and transparency, we call on all Perth Hills LGAs to: 

  • lead a firm, positive response to help mitigate climate change and support adaptation to the rapidly changing climate;
  • adopt an approach based on rigorous science, and in accordance with the international scientific consensus (that global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) must fall by at least 50 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ by 2050);
  • set a pathway to net zero emission reduction goals and, assess and report progress towards those goals – using emissions inventories and modelling [iv]. Plans for such should be clear in their assumptions about what emissions are to be counted, such as: Scopes 1, 2 and 3; and which GHG gases are to be counted – including their type (i.e. methane, CO2, nitrous oxide etc), their physical sources (such as landfill, farming, households etc) and their global warming potential over the lifetime of each greenhouse gas, in a relevant, transparent and accurate manner, to ensure the actions taken have the intended results[v] with respect to:
    • LGA operational emissions (also called corporate emissions), e.g. 100% renewable energy, water and waste efficiency, reduction to supply chain emissions, zero emissions transport; and
    • Community emission reduction, e.g., low emissions housing and business precinct developments, encouraging households, and the private and not-for-profit sectors, in their response to climate change, encouraging clean technologies, supporting an electric transport future, and advancing zero emissions industries; [vi]
  • communicate and engage with residents and ratepayers, and business and not for profit stakeholders, about Climate Action plans and updates on achievements;
  • embed the Climate Policy and Action Plans into Council governance and audit and risk assessment frameworks, Strategic Community Plans, Corporate Plans and environmental strategies;
  • fund Youth empowerment projects, for a youth Voice (agency) in climate action;
  • partner with other LGAs across the Perth Hills region; and
  • join the Cities Powers Partnership[vii] and the ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability[viii]  for co-learning and collaboration purposes, and to strengthen collaboration with WALGA.

Perth Hills LGAs that have yet to declare a climate emergency are encouraged to do so

3. Mitigation and Adaptation Priorities for the Perth Hills

To mitigate climate risks in the Perth Hills, LGAs should:

  • Provide support, advice and incentives to businesses, not for profits, local governments and families to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Priorities for the Perth Hills are to:-
    • improve energy efficiency in building upgrades to ensure houses are safe and comfortable,
    • accelerate solar and wind power initiatives, and expand the renewable energy projects currently in place
    • improve availability and affordability of storage batteries, for individual households and communities
  • Convert street lighting to LED lighting as this alone will reduce their greenhouse emissions by half, or more, and enable more effective allocation of ratepayer funds; 
  • Encourage use of electric vehicles (to reduce emissions and improve air quality) by providing fleet subsidies and sufficient easily accessible EV charging stations; 
  • Advocate for action on air pollution risks, particularly those associated with diesel fuel emissions and bushfires, and ensure they are locally monitored and mitigated;
  • Reduce carbon emissions by the adoption cultural burning in LGA reserves;
  • Assertively reduce water wastage and overuse in parks and sport ovals; and
  • Divest from investments in the fossil fuel industry.

To adapt to the effects of climate change in the Perth Hills, LGAs should:

  • Support businesses, not for profits, and community groups to undertake regular climate change risk assessments and to support them to meet the needs identified.
  • Advocate for affordable insurance cover for family homes and assets, businesses, & not for profit services by Federal government insurance underwriting, and by ensuring housing estates are not built in high-risk areas.
  • Secure funding to enable local infrastructure damaged or destroyed in a climate disaster to be repaired or rebuilt to readiness standards for a climate-changed Perth Hills environment, in accordance with the principle of ‘betterment’.
  • Advocate for the National Construction Code to be strengthened to require buildings to be safer and more resilient to the effects of climate change.
  • Ensure all planning and development activity adequately accounts for accelerating climate risks. A priority in the Perth Hills is that there be
    • No new housing or industrial estates within or near catastrophic fire risk areas, nor in areas where safe evacuations are impossible in the event of a catastrophic fire.
  • Provide support to communities and individuals to build resilience and capability to prevent and withstand extreme weather events and bushfires and food insecurity.
  • Urgently implement the findings relevant to LGAs in the Perth Hills of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disasters, and bring closer attention to food security infrastructure, and
  • Secure an increase in funding for natural resource management programmes, particularly those that protect and enhance waterways, native forests and bushlands, and ensure that LGA works teams are knowledgeable about native vegetation and the importance of its preservation as well as storm surge climate risks and how these can be mitigated, particularly with respect to waterways storm surge and stream pollution mitigation.

[i] What Australians really think about climate action.  ABC news, February 2020, updated August 2020

[ii] Roleystone-Kelmscott- Perth Hills Bushfires 2011 Review see – – Perth Hills Bushfire 2011 – Submissions 90-94.pdf. 71 homes destroyed, 12 people hospitalised, 440 hectares burnt.  Parkerville – Stoneville 2014 – Perth Hills Bushfire – 386 hectares burnt, 57 houses destroyed, 6 damaged.  Wooroloo –Upper Swan 2021 – Perth Hills bushfire  86 houses and 2 fire trucks destroyed; 11,000 hectares burnt.

[iii] Ecological Grief as a Response to Environmental Change: A Mental Health Risk or a Functional Response. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. January 2021.

[iv] Emissions Inventory data examples – C40 Cities described a planning process based on emissions inventories in Climate Action Planning Framework

The City of Newcastle undertook a detailed carbon footprint analysis for its Operations in accordance with the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) guidelines and emissions factors stipulated in the Australian Government’s National Greenhouse Account Factors. Using the inventory to set plan are described in and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007

[v] Greenhouse Gas Protocol: Mitigation Goal Standard. An accounting and reporting standard for national and subnational greenhouse emission goals.  World Resources Institute.

[vi] Newcastle Climate Action Plan 2021 – 2025

[vii] Cities Power Partnership

[viii] ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability