SKM helps guide local councils on climate change

Thursday, 12 July, 2007

Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) has provided local governments in Queensland with a practical guide for meeting the challenges of climate change.

In a first for Australia, SKM put together the 54-page guide called "Adapting to Climate Change' on behalf of the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ). The publication offers local governments a very practical tool that aids in assessing the impacts of climate change and what can be done to ameliorate them.

Traditionally much of the climate change debate has focussed on emissions control. However, the new guide presents climate change as something that is inevitable and concentrates on what other practical steps can be taken to help local governments prepare for the future.

The guide helps in building the capability of councils to assess risks related to climate change and offers a checklist of possible adaptation measures. Prior to the release of this guide, no organisation in Australia had considered all of these issues in a structured and practical fashion.

The LGAQ was perceptive enough to realise that its members could benefit from such a functional manual that addressed the concrete needs of councillors and staff. This was particularly the case for resource-constrained rural councils. The guide includes case studies of councils that have implemented simple action plans to help them avoid the risks posed by climate change.

"This strong knowledge of how local government works was essential to the project's success. SKM's access to international best practice on climate change means local government stakeholders in Queensland are now better equipped to handle this important issue. Translating technical and scientific information into a practical action plan was also essential for making the guide effective," said Susanne Cooper, a sustainability manager with SKM.

Although the guide was initially developed for Queensland local governments, it is useful and relevant to local governments across Australia.

"This work could be the basis for a more national approach to planning for climate change," said Ms Cooper.

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