Mornington Peninsula Shire has been told it must immediately adopt strategies to tackle climate change.
Minter Ellison special counsel Sarah Barker has told shire councillors and senior officers that climate change action and mitigation is a serious financial consideration for industries and communities across the globe.
Ms Barker said strategies must immediately be integrated into all council activities to address climate change risks.
She spoke on the approaches being taken by organisations worldwide, including the World Economic Forum, global banks, ratings agencies and insurance agencies to cope with its impacts.
The mayor Cr David Gill said the council wanted to learn more about global approaches to climate change.
“It was great to hear from an industry expert and reinforce the knowledge that our efforts to adapt council operations and support our community are in line with global trends,” he said.
“Sarah presented a different lens on the potential risks to our community and highlighted the peninsula’s vulnerability to sea level rise in low lying areas.
“The productivity of our agricultural sector is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change through longer droughts, stronger storms and flash flooding.
“Council is working to ensure the community is well equipped with the knowledge and tools to prepare for these risks and reduce liability.”
Shire programs aim to identify climate change risks to infrastructure, environment, service delivery, finance and community, and to have actions and controls in place to minimise these risks, Cr Gill said.
Cr Simon Brooks said minimising climate change risk and “working with communities to adapt and mitigate climate change is one of our highest priorities”.
“We have an obligation to limit [its] impact and also to lessen [its] liability to our ratepayers long after this council term is over,” he said.
The shire’s climate change, energy and water manager Melissa Burrage said the council had been proactive in encouraging community action. “We’re determined to shape a council and community prepared to respond to the impacts of climate change across all areas of operations, especially planning, infrastructure, finance and the environment,” she said.