An aerial view of the coastline at Port Noarlunga South, overlooking the mouth of the Onkaparinga River.

Published on 19 August 2022

Council extends climate commitments in new plan

City of Onkaparinga’s ambitious plan to tackle climate change over the next five years has been approved by Council, formalising 79 initiatives to tackle climate impacts and community resilience across the region.

The Climate Change Response Plan 2022–27 was adopted on 16 August. It provides clear strategic direction for council’s role in helping the city mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.

Acting Mayor Simon McMahon said climate action is not new to council, which has been responding to climate change for over two decades.

“This plan takes the council even further,” he said.

“It builds on our existing work and outlines what we will do next to address climate change in our community and in our day-to-day operations.

“Councils are on the frontline of responding to climate change consequences, such as more frequent and extreme weather events, sea level rise and bushfires, and we perform an important role in helping communities to mitigate and respond.

“We now have a comprehensive plan that encompasses the broad range of our activities, including community development, purchasing, asset management, communication and environmental management.”

The five-year plan has five overarching goals, with actions attached to each:

  • Climate-smart neighbourhoods: 19 initiatives including urban heat and tree canopy mapping, and developing a water options analysis to improve where and how council irrigates public spaces
  • Climate-ready communities: six initiatives including building the network of Community Led Emergency Resilience Network (CLER) groups across Onkaparinga to increase the capacity for resilience, and delivering more than 50 Sustainable Onkaparinga workshops each year
  • Climate-resilient natural areas: 14 initiatives including completing an Ecological Linkage Study to increase biodiversity linkages across Onkaparinga’s landscapes, exploring place-based Indigenous-led action with the First Nations People Advisory Group, and developing a coastal adaptation plan that responds to council’s 2021 Coastal Adaptation Study
  • Low carbon transition: 23 initiatives including changing Onkaparinga’s remaining arterial and major road street lights and decorative lights to LED, installing solar on key council buildings, purchasing electric vehicles when council fleet vehicles need replacing, and developing a policy position on providing or facilitating additional electric vehicle charging on council land
  • Climate risk reduction: 17 initiatives including expanding council’s fuel load reduction program in high bushfire risk areas with new technologies, and undertaking stormwater capacity and flood risk assessments in each of Onkaparinga’s eight creek catchments.

Many of the plan’s initiatives have multiple community benefits. Increasing the use of solar power reduces both carbon emissions and energy costs. Planting 6000 trees a year will sequester carbon, cool hot streets, and bolster biodiversity.

The Climate Change Response Plan follows Council’s recent endorsement of a Towards Zero Corporate Emissions Roadmap, which sets a target of 80 per cent reduction in the organisation’s corporate greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Acting Mayor McMahon said the plan reflects community priorities.

“Our community has told us loud and clear that taking action on climate change is a priority for them, and the science tells us that strong action to reduce emissions is needed this decade,” he said.

In a community survey on the draft plan, 80 per cent of respondents rated it as good, very good or excellent, echoing last year’s Community Survey, where 81 per cent of respondents agreed that ‘not addressing climate change would be a risk to our city’.

You can view the plan at council’s website.