Enhancing our climate resilience

Safeguarding the health and resilience of our community, economy and environment requires an understanding of the ways our climate will change, and strategies to enhance our preparedness.

Transitioning our economy to net zero emissions will help reduce the impact of climate change, but some changes are inevitable. Safeguarding the health and resilience of our community requires an understanding of the ways our climate will change, and strategies to enhance our preparedness.

Climate change physical impacts in Western Australia

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Western Australia’s climate has changed during the past century, with our State’s south-west region impacted by climate change more than almost any other place on the planet. We have seen higher average temperatures, and an increase in the annual number of days in Perth over 35 ℃. There has also been a steady decline in rainfall, with a 60 per cent reduction of inflow to metropolitan dams since the 1970s.

Already one of the most fire‑prone regions in the world, Western Australia’s fire risk has increased over the past four decades, and fire seasons have lengthened due to warming, drying conditions. There have also been observed changes in sea levels, which has contributed to in an increase in coastal inundation and coastal erosion events.

In the future, climate change will drive increased average and maximum temperatures, time spent in drought and lead to more extreme weather events.  In the south-west, the prolonged period of drying will continue, affecting primary industries, water security and natural ecosystems. 

These changes will potentially have broad impacts across our communities, industries and ecosystems. Warming trends and extreme events will affect our natural assets, such as Ningaloo Reef, and our global biodiversity hotspot in the south-west, which will have implications for how these iconic regions are managed. 

Climate change will see a need for greater emphasis on disaster preparedness, and increase the challenge of protecting infrastructure and vulnerable communities. Some agricultural areas in Western Australia may become marginal and our cities and towns will be exposed to rising sea levels. Meanwhile, more severe heatwaves and changing patterns of disease have the potential to affect the health and wellbeing of Western Australians, particularly the vulnerable. 

Adapting to climate change

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‘The process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects’.
- Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (Summary for Policymakers) – IPCC

In order to protect our unique environment and our thriving economy, policies and measures are needed to prepare for the challenges of climate change now and into the future. Western Australians will need to adapt in order to ensure the wellbeing of the community, the environment and the economy, and to minimise the costs of climate change impacts on society. 

Adapting to climate change can include a range of responses including changing how we do business, supporting healthy, connected cities and regions, building climate-resilient infrastructure, and addressing existing stressors on our environment.
 

Adaptation Initiatives

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The policy sets out the high-level priorities the State Government will implement to support a more climate-resilient community. Refer to the policy for more information on key climate resilience initiatives, including:  

  • Climate Resilience Action Plan 2022-25
  • Climate Science Initiative 
  • Climate risk framework
  • Pilot Sectoral Adaptation Plan 

The approach to climate adaptation recognises our exposure to climate impacts, the diversity of our regions and our existing capability to manage and adapt to climate change. For more information on the approach and a full list of relevant initiatives refer to these themes in the policy:

  • Resilient cities and regions
  • Government leadership 
     
Page reviewed 30 November 2020