2.4 Implications for the region
Many tourists visit the region solely because of the natural beauty of its reefs and rainforests.
Therefore, the region’s tourism industry would be adversely affected by any damage to these natural icons.
Rising sea levels, increased storm surge levels, and increased intensity of cyclones all pose risks to public and private infrastructure.
Increased temperatures may increase health risks such as heat stress and tropical diseases for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and young children.
Rising costs of basic goods, services and electricity will disproportionately affect residents from low socio-economic backgrounds, and basic requirements could become unaffordable for some sectors of the community.
As fuel prices increase, driving may become unaffordable for some people, and unless low carbon public transport options are available this will restrict access to services for residents in outlying suburbs.
2.5 The international response
The issue of climate change has been on the international agenda since The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Since this time, climate change has increasingly dominated international environmental negotiations, and is now widely recognised as the most serious environmental issue of our time.
It is also an issue that will require a high degree of international cooperation to resolve.
The international response to climate change is coordinated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and regulated by the Kyoto Protocol, which Australia ratified in 2007.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the United Nations
Environment Program to conduct and communicate sound research on climate science.
The IPCC released a report in 2007 stating that to put the world on track to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least half of 1990 levels by 2050, developed countries collectively need to cut their emissions to 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80-95% by 2050.
2.6 The Australian response
The Australian government ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2007.
Australia has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5-25% below 2000 levels by 2020 (depending on the level of international cooperation), and 60% below 2000 levels by 2050.
To assist in achieving this, the Federal Government has passed the Renewable Energy Target which commits to generating 20% of Australia’s electricity supply (45,850 GWh) from renewable sources by 2020.
2.7 Queensland State Government
The Queensland Government’s Towards Q2:
Tomorrow’s Queensland incorporates targets aimed at protecting local communities from climate change impacts.
These targets include:
• Cutting Queensland’s carbon footprint by one third by 2020, with a focus on reducing electricity and motor vehicle use
Allocating 50 per cent more land for nature conservation and public recreation to protect regional biodiversity and will create more natural carbon sinks to offset emissions
Regional climate change actions will also be influenced by climate change initiatives and policies included in the following Queensland Government policies:
ClimateSmart Adaptation 2007-12 ClimateQ: toward a greener Queensland FNQ
Regional Plan 2009-2031
State Coastal Management Plan
Press link for more: Cairns Regional Council