Future Proofing Perth's Eastern Region



Climate change presents a huge challenge for local government with possible impacts including infrastructure failure, changes in land-use, loss or migration of biodiversity, reduction in environmental health and increased intensity and frequency of fire and emergency events. Other broader key risks include the potential for changing economic viability of local industries, social dislocation and impacts on human health and wellbeing.

Development of Future Proofing Perth's Eastern Region: Adapting to Climate Change Program began in 2008 with the aim of actively implementing actions to assist and prepare Perth's Eastern Region to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Since then, regional and local adaptation plans have been developed, seminars have been held and knowledge has been shared to enable adaptation to climate change in the region. New issues have emerged and initiatives and projects developed to address these.

The summer of 2012-2013 was the hottest on record. Coined the 'Angry Summer', more than 120 weather records were broken in 90 days (Climate Council, 2013). On a global scale, 2013 was the fourth hottest on record (NOAA, 2013). The catalyst behind the rapidly changing climatic conditions is unequivocally human interference (IPCC, 2013).

All of the world's 10 warmest years have occurred since 1998. 2015 is the 39th consecutive year with above-average global temperatures (Climate Council, 2016). The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for February 2016 was the highest for February in the 137-year period of record, at 1.21 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average of 12.1 degrees Celsius (NOAA, 2016).


Background and Timeline


Development of Future Proofing Perth's Eastern Region: Adapting to Climate Change Program began.


EMRC Council approved the Regional Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan (RCCAAP) 2009-2013 which identified regional risks and actions that would assist local government operations and services.

Each of EMRC's member Councils undertook a similar risk assessment process and developed individual Local Climate Change Adaptation Action Plans (LCCAAPs).


EMRC was acknowledged by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) as a finalist champion in climate change adaptation.

EMRC held a Climate Change Forum aimed at council staff and key stakeholders regarding the potential legal implications of climate change.


EMRC signed WALGA's Western Australian Local Government Declaration on Climate Change, acknowledging their commitment to climate change adaptation.


Council approved the extension of the Future Proofing Program until 2016 including the review of the RCCAAP 2009-2013 and the development of the new 2013-2016 plan.

EMRC launched the Climate Change Risk Awareness Seminar Series in November 2013.


RCCAAP 2009-2013 review was completed.

EMRC Council approved the new Regional Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2013-2016 in May 2014.

The second seminar 'Know the Risks: How will climate change impact you in your workplace?' was held on 6 March 2014.

The third seminar, 'Planning to Reduce Urban Heat', was held on 3 July 2014.


The fourth seminar, 'Heatwaves and their impact on human health', was delivered on 27 March 2015.


The fifth seminar, 'Impacts of climate change on biodiversity', was delivered on 19 April 2016.

Regional Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan (RCCAAP)

The RCCAAP comprises 10 priority risk areas which contain actions for implementing climate change adaptation across Perth's Eastern Region. They include:

  • Infrastructure failure;
  • Impacts on essential services;
  • Watercourse damage and loss;
  • Increasing bushfires;
  • Water decline and reduced water quality;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions and related air pollution;
  • Loss of ecosystems and provision of public open space;
  • Decline in population health and wellbeing;
  • Economic challenges and opportunities; and
  • Changing leadership and development requirements.

For more information please download the RCCAAP below:

Regional Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2013-2016 (RCCAAP)

Climate Change Risk Awareness Seminar Series

Adapting to the changing climate, particularly in the south west of WA, represents one of the biggest social, environmental and economic challenges and opportunities faced by local government and must be addressed in a continuing and sustained manner at both a regional and local level.

The seminar series provides a forum to bring together leading researchers and industry experts from state and local government and the private sector with local government representatives to share information and best practice in addressing climate change risks. The aim of the seminars is to highlight the potential impacts and risks of climate change on local governments and identify their responsibilities in addressing these risks.

Seminar One - Inaugural Launch

On 27 November 2013, EMRC launched their Climate Change Risk Awareness Seminar Series. Attendees included representatives from Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Office of Bushfire Risk Management, WALGA, EMRC and member councils, as well as elected Members.

The aim of the inaugural launch seminar was to bring together important decision makers and stakeholders to discuss the impacts of climate change and consider the strategic direction that EMRC and participating member councils are taking in relation to climate change adaptation.

Presentations were delivered by Robert Kay from Adaptive Futures on climate change adaptation and local government responsibility; Helen Brown from Curtin University on the impacts of climate change on human health, in particular the impacts of the urban heat island effect; and Erin Harrison from EMRC in relation to EMRC's strategic direction on climate change adaptation.

Dr Helen Brown - Curtin University Dr Robert Kay - Adaptive Futures
Dr Helen Brown - Curtin University Dr Robert Kay - Adaptive Futures

Seminar Two - Know the Risks

The second seminar 'Know the Risks: How will climate change impact you in your workplace?' was held on 6 March 2014 and hosted by the Town of Bassendean.

Dr Bryson Bates, 2007 shared Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Leader for the Pathways to Adaptation Theme in CSIRO's Climate Adaptation National Flagship, delivered an insightful presentation in relation to the current status of climate change.

Dr Bates' key messages included;

  • The need to act and act now.
  • There will always be some uncertainty within climate modelling due to its complexities, but what is certain is that the south west of WA will get hotter and drier.
  • Local governments should be putting in place adaptation measures and contingency plans for the future.

An interactive workshop was held following Dr Bates' presentation to assist in identifying potential climate risks, gaps and opportunities.

Dr Bryan Bates
Dr Bryan Bates

Seminar Three - Planning to Reduce Urban Heat Training Workshop

EMRC partnered with the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) and the City of Bayswater to co-host the 'Planning to Reduce Urban Heat Training Workshop' on 3 July 2014.

The workshop included presentations from leading researchers and industry experts from state and local government, universities and the private sector and interactive sessions on how to reduce the impacts of urban heat in the community.

The key message from the workshop was the need to start designing cities that integrate trees and water as assets that provide a valuable service rather than being seen as an aesthetic add-on in the post-development phase. A number of techniques were discussed to achieve this including:

  • Water sensitive design
  • Increasing street plantings
  • Enhancing public open space; and
  • Better utilising streetscapes to try and reduce urban heat.

Workshop participants identified the need for increased education and awareness around how to cool our urban landscape and the development of more detailed and robust policies to protect trees.

Dr Julian Bolleter Attendees listening to a presentation
Dr Julian Bolleter, Australian Urban Design Research Centre Attendees listening to a presentation by Peter Ciemitis, Roberts Day

Seminar Four -- Heatwaves and their impacts on human health

The fourth seminar, Heatwaves and their impact on human health, was delivered on 27 March 2015. This seminar was aimed at local government officers that work outdoors and those that have a responsibility to the community (Environmental Health Officers, Community Workers, Parks and Garden Staff, Maintenance Staff, Occupational Safety and Health Officers and Managers).

Australia has been getting hotter for decades, with seven of the ten warmest years on record occurring since 2002. Heatwaves are becoming hotter, longer and more frequent.

Warmer conditions are increasing the number of heat-related medical conditions and the number of cases seen across Australia. Such conditions include cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease and deaths resulting from heat stroke and related conditions (Vic 2014).

This seminar provided officers with information in relation to the health impacts of heatwaves, case studies of local governments operating in high heat conditions and the state policy that is in place to assist with managing the impacts of heatwaves. Presentations were delivered by Tony Spicer (Department of Health), Chris Gilmour (LGIS) and Sarah Davis (Registered Nurse).

Seminar Five - Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity

As the climate changes species, naturally learn to adapt, but this process normally occurs over thousands of years. With human induced climate change accelerating the change in climatic conditions, species are unable to change and adapt fast enough and, as a result, we are seeing a greater loss in biodiversity.

The Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity seminar was held on Tuesday, 19 April 2016. Presentations included Ben Ford, University of Western Australia, talking about the impacts of climate change on species distribution; Dr Belinda Robson, Murdoch University, spoke on the impacts on rivers and wetland biodiversity and Trish Brennan, Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre, talked about the impacts climate change is having on Carnaby's Cockatoo.

Harmony the Carnaby and Trish from Kaarakin
Harmony the Carnaby and Trish from Kaarakin

Seminar Six - Transport and Alternative Energy for Low Carbon Future

EMRC has a strong strategic connection in relation to transportation and alternative energy through the Regional Integrated Transport Strategy, Regional Environment Strategy and Regional Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan.

This Seminar brought together leading researchers and industry experts to highlight some of the important emerging technologies in these areas. Presentations included:

  • Peter Newman, Curtin University, The role of Autodependence
  • Amanda Joseph, RAC, Automated Vehicle Trial, RAC Intellibus
  • Crawford Connell, City of Belmont, eBike Trial at the City of Belmont
  • Dermot Costello, Clean Energy Council, Alternative Energy

Presentations available to view below

Peter Newman, Curtin University
Peter Newman, Curtin University

Peter Newman discussed the myths behind our economy's reliance on oil and coal, showing that many of the leading countries around the world have been decoupling from oil and coal since the 90's and their economies are still growing strongly.

Peter discussed the data showing that peak car use had occurred back in 2004 and that, per capita, we are now driving less. We are seeing the end of automobile dependence, and that wealth improves as car space is reclaimed for people and work.

Amanda Joseph highlighted the evolving trial of the RAC's Intellibus, a 15 seater Navya ARMA shuttle bus. Large strides have been made in making automated vehicles (AVs) a reality on Perth roads. The RAC is undertaking trials and testing of the Intellibus and once complete they will be advocating for changes to policy in relation to AVs.

Crawford Connell promoted the City of Belmont's eBike trial as part of the Switched On Bikes program. The trial was a great success with officers finding the technology simple to use breaking down a number of barriers with conventional bikes. Crawford highlighted the need to harness people's enthusiasm for trialling something new and believes that this is a great low-cost trial for local governments to invest in.

Dermot Costello provided an insightful overview into the Clean Energy Council (CEC) and their operations supporting industry integrity in relation to renewables and alternative energy. He discussed the emerging technology of battery storage, getting industry involved in leadership and development and the current lack of standards for batter storage system installation, disposal and recycling -- which will become the CEC's focus in the coming months.

Presentation - The Role of Autodependence - Peter Newman - Curtin University

Presentation - eBike Trial at the City of Belmont - Crawford Connell - City of Belmont

Presentation - Clean Energy Council - Dermot Costello - Clean Energy

Future Seminars

The next two seminars are being developed and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

Urban Heat, Urban Canopy

Perth's Eastern Region, like most urban settlements around Australia, is feeling the pressure of increasing urban density due to population growth. However, this increase in density is coming at a high cost to urban vegetation. As land is cleared to fit more houses on smaller blocks, less space is left for urban canopy, which is having a largely negative impact on communities. Added to this are the additional impacts of climate change on urban heat and biodiversity. A significant amount of research has been undertaken over the past decade to highlight the importance of vegetation within the urban environment and ways to design and retrofit developments to become resilient, sustainable, productive and liveable communities.

One of the most important benefits of improved urban canopy is the reduction of urban heat, which in turn lowers the cost of cooling buildings and improves health and wellbeing.

For more information on urban forest initiatives, please visit the Urban Heat, Urban Canopy page here.

Understanding and Managing Flood Risk in Perth

The 'Understanding and Managing Flood Risk in Perth's Eastern Region' project was identified in the RCCAAP 2009-2013 and identified a need for up to date flood risk information in the eastern reaches of the Swan River and a major tributary the Helena River.

Flood risk information is required to enable disaster resilience through guiding planning and development decision-making that incorporates climate change considerations and to assess the vulnerability of public and private property and infrastructure and facilitate the development of adaptation emergency response planning activities. This project aims to make information on flood risk readily available so that government, risk managers and planners can make informed risk management and development decisions, as well as assist with the adaptation process.

For more information regarding this project, please visit the Understanding and Managing Flood Risk in Perth project page here.

Contact Information

For further information please contact:

Julia Christensen - Coordinator Urban Environment
Email: julia.christensen@emrc.org.au  

Future Proofing Perth's Eastern Region1Future Proofing Perth's Eastern Region2Future Proofing Perth's Eastern Region3