Queensland’s freshwater ecosystems or wetlands are important habitats.
Queensland’s estuarine and marine ecosystems (wetlands) support much of the state’s native biodiversity, including migratory birds, dugongs, dolphins, turtles, and fish.
Queensland’s native plants (flora) and animals (fauna) are unique and valuable elements of our state’s rich biodiversity.
World Heritage sites are places that have outstanding universal value that transcends the significance they hold for a particular nation.
We need clean water to protect our freshwater, estuarine and marine plants and animals.
A greenhouse gas is a gas that traps heat in the atmosphere, causing climate change.
Climate is the long-term pattern of prevailing weather conditions (rainfall, temperature etc.) for a particular locality or region, while weather refers to the state of the atmosphere at or for a brief period of time.
Sea surface temperatures around Queensland (particularly in the Coral Sea, but also in the Gulf of Carpentaria) provide an indicator of the likelihood of the formation and development of tropical cyclones and east coast lows.
An Introduction to Climate Change in the Queensland State of the Environment Report
Management responses are the actions or initiatives undertaken to protect, maintain and restore environmental assets, as well as those that prevent, mitigate or adapt to changes in the environment. They are generally developed in reaction to the observed or anticipated pressures and impacts, or the state of the environment. They act in a multitude of ways, either individually or, more often, in concert with one another to bring about environmental change.
Applicable management responses related to climate change include:
The Vegetation Management Act 1999 regulates the clearing of vegetation in Queensland in a way that:
- conserves remnant vegetation
- ensures clearing does not cause land degradation
- prevents loss of biodiversity
- maintains ecological processes
- reduces greenhouse gas emissions
- allows for sustainable land use.
The 2015–16 Statewide Land Assessment and Tree Study (SLATS) report showed an increase in annual woody vegetation clearing rates from 298,000ha in 2014–15 to about 395,000ha in 2015–16.
The Queensland Government has delivered on its election commitment, as well as commitments under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050 Plan), to reinstate its nation leading vegetation management protections to increase the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef and reduce carbon emissions.
In March 2018, the Queensland Government strengthened Queensland’s vegetation management laws to increase protection for high-value regrowth and remnant vegetation and boost protection for important Habitats, including waterways leading to the Great Barrier Reef.
In addition to the amendments to the Vegetation Management Act 1999, the government has made further changes to the vegetation management framework by:
- releasing scientific updates to vegetation management maps
- updating accepted development vegetation clearing codes based on scientific advice from the Queensland Herbarium and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
- revoking the relevant vegetation clearing code and area management plans so that managing thickened vegetation now requires a development approval.
Policy and Programs
Through best practice community engagement, the Queensland Government is helping Queenslanders understand and adapt to climate change. This includes regionally-specific information and tools such as the Queensland Future Climate website, the Climate Change in Queensland map application, Regional Climate Impact Summaries and climate risk toolkits.
Policies and Programs include:
- Queensland Strategy for Disaster Resilience
- Drought and Climate Adaptation Program
- State Planning Policy 2017 including guidelines to address the impacts of climate change
- Queensland Water Act 2000 including guidelines to incorporate climate change in water security risk planning.
Carbon farming involves activities like managing vegetation and savanna burning to store carbon or avoid the release of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Queensland Government is working to keep carbon in the ground through the $500 million Land Restoration Fund. Through its first Investment Round, $100 million was made available to projects that generate Australian carbon credit units with verifiable social, environmental, economic and regional development benefits.
This work builds on the existing Carbon Plus program, which is already delivering on-the ground outcomes in First Nations communities.
The Climate Solutions Fund-Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) provides incentives for emissions reduction activities across the Australian economy to support achieving of Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target. The Emissions Reduction Fund’s core principles are to reduce emissions at lowest cost and purchasing genuine and additional emissions reductions.
The ERF operates alongside existing programs that are already working to reduce Australia’s emissions growth such as the Renewable Energy Target and energy efficiency standards on appliances, equipment and buildings. The Safeguard mechanism began in July 2016, to ensure emissions reductions paid for through the ERF are not offset by significant increases in emissions elsewhere in the economy. The Australian Government provided $2.55 billion toward the ERF, with further funding to be considered in future budgets.
The ERF offers a range of opportunities for businesses, local councils, state governments and land managers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture, energy, waste, transport, and industrial processes. As of March 2020, the ERF had secured over 192.1 million tonnes of abatement through 473 projects under contract.
Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) are jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments, providing financial assistance to communities affected by natural disasters. Funding applies to eligible events that occur after 1 November 2018. The DRFA replaces the previous Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). The DRFA has more flexibility than its predecessor in the way in which the program is funded and delivered.
Under the arrangements, the relevant state or territory government determines which areas receive DRFA assistance and what assistance is available to individuals and communities based on the extent of the natural disaster. Where the DRFA is activated, the Australian Government provides up to 75% of the assistance, which is delivered through state and territory agencies. Under exceptional circumstances, Category D funding can be activated for environmental repair and recovery works. These repair works not only enhance the resilience of catchments to future extreme weather events, but also help improve water quality within freshwater and marine environments.
Central to the Queensland Government’s climate change management response is a target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, supported by an interim target of reducing emissions by at least 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The Queensland Government has engaged with the start-up community to promote Zero Emissions Innovation in action. It supported key initiatives including:
- Climate-KIC, a global Knowledge Innovation Community designed to catalyse transformative, cross-sectoral responses to climate change
- EnergyLab, a clean energy business accelerator to support the growth of clean energy startups in Queensland.
These initiatives complement the Queensland Government’s broader innovation agenda driven by the Advance Queensland program.
The Queensland Government is reducing emissions across its own operations. Key initiatives include:
- joining the international Under2Coalition to support the global shift to zero net emissions by 2050
- delivering the Queensland Police Service Electricity Optimisation Project that has seen 1.7MW of solar systems installed at 45 police stations across Queensland
- transparently reporting carbon emissions from all Queensland Government operations through the Open Data Portal
- the QFleet Electric Vehicle Strategy that commits to at least doubling the number of electric vehicles in the government fleet annually from 2018 to 2022
- investing $97 million in the Advancing Clean Energy Schools program to cut energy costs across state schools through solar and energy efficiency measures
- Queensland Government and below50 Australia Statement of Collaboration to grow an advanced bioeconomy and promote the production and use of sustainable, low carbon fuels incorporating the zero net emissions by 2050 target into Queensland Government procurement policy
- reducing and offsetting emissions from Queensland Government vehicles
- using the land-use planning system to support delivery of zero net emissions
- reintroducing comprehensive vegetation management legislation.
- Queensland Government initiatives and actions
- Under2 Coalition
- Queensland Police Service Electricity Optimisation Project
- Open Data Portal
- QFleet Environmental strategy
- Advancing Queensland Clean Energy Schools program
- Queensland Government Procurement Policy
- QFleet Electric Vehicle Transition Strategy
- Queensland Land Use Planning Mapping Program (QLUMP) applications
The Queensland Government is working with industry and the community to achieve a 50% renewable energy target by 2030 to reduce emissions, create new jobs and diversify the state’s economy. The Government is working to grow a sustainable industrial biotechnology and bioproducts sector and develop a sustainable hydrogen industry in Queensland.
The Queensland Government developed a high-level adaptation action plan, Managing Climate Risk: Actions for Queensland Government (MCR). The MCR aims to address the risks that climate change poses to government assets and services and incorporate climate-related risk management into policies, regulations and procedures. The MCR Program will build capability across Queensland Government agencies to strengthen institutional climate risk management and ensure a coordinated whole-of-government approach to managing climate-related risks.
The Queensland State Disaster Management Plan (QSDMP) is primarily intended for disaster management stakeholders within the state of Queensland. The QSDMP establishes the framework, arrangements and practices that enable current and future disaster management in Queensland. It includes guidance for disaster management stakeholders through the provision of commentary and directions to supporting documents such as plans, strategies or guidelines. The plan highlights significant elements of disaster management which are important to all Queenslanders.
The plan aims to mitigate the effects of, prepare for, respond to, recover from and build resilience to disaster events under the current and future climate.
The Queensland State Natural Hazard Risk Assessment informs the plan. As the risk assessment matures, the plan will change.
- Risk Management— Understanding our disaster risk enhances resilience, preparedness, response and recovery.
- Planning—Informed by risk and developed in consultation and collaboration.
- Local Focus—Disaster management activities assist local disaster management groups, who are provided with committed and meaningful support.
- Resilience— Economic costs of disasters will rise as will their frequency. Focusing on resilience will enable us to meet this challenge.
Queensland Treasury Corporation Green Bonds are supporting nearly $2 billion of investment in a low-carbon and climate resilient economy. Proceeds from the issue of green bonds will be used to fund qualifying green projects and assets throughout the state. Projects funded so far using green bonds include low carbon transport such as the Gold Coast light rail, South East Queensland’s city train network, electric powered tilt train rolling stock; solar photovoltaic projects and cycle ways.
The Queensland Government is working to reduce carbon emissions from the built environment.
- requiring sustainability assessments for all capital works programs over $100 million as part of the State Infrastructure Plan
- delivering $2 billion in rebates and initiatives under the Affordable Energy Plan to help households and businesses reduce energy use and maintain energy affordability
- boosting our entrepreneurial culture, supporting innovation and growth, building on our natural advantages and bringing new energy efficient products and services to Queensland as part of the $755 million Advance Queensland initiative
- delivering environmentally, socially and economically sustainable communities through Economic Development Queensland’s adoption of the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s EnviroDevelopment certification framework
- partnering with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland to deliver the ecoBiz program, which has helped Queensland businesses achieve an energy saving, on average, of 17 per cent since 2013 through access to personal coaching, training and tools to improve energy efficiency
- advocating for the development of improved national energy efficiency building codes
- consolidating development policies in the State Planning Policy and ShapingSEQ Regional Plan, to encourage housing in well connected, accessible and well serviced areas.
The Queensland Government supported the development of eight Sector Adaptation Plans (SAPs) for: built environment and infrastructure; agriculture; tourism; human health and wellbeing; emergency management; biodiversity and ecosystems; small and medium business; and the energy, mining and manufacturing sectors. The Queensland Government and sector stakeholders are co-investing in projects to implement high priority actions in each SAP.
SAPs help to prioritise climate change activities across the key sectors and systems of the community. They have been developed in consultation with sector and industry stakeholders to reflect the needs and priorities of each sector. They identify emerging opportunities, share knowledge and encourage collaboration.
The Queensland Government established the Just Transition Group to help identify ways to skill workers, create new jobs, drive economic diversification and encourage further investment in Queensland’s energy sector. This complements the Jobs Queensland Anticipating Future Skills project and the state’s vocational education and training investment programs.
The State Earthquake Risk Assessment (SERA) and accompanying Tsunami Guide for Queensland (TGQ) are high-level reports intended to act as the foundational earthquake and tsunami risk assessments for all tiers of government, non-government organisations, not-for-profit organisations, disaster management groups, and others with legislated roles in disaster management.
They provide a comprehensive overview of current and future earthquake and tsunami risk in Queensland based on information derived from national assessments on these hazards developed by Geoscience Australia (GA). The development of the SERA and TGQ was underpinned by the QERMF, and was a collaborative effort led by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) in partnership with GA, Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES), and the Universities of Queensland (UQ) and Newcastle (UN).
The State Heatwave Risk Assessment (SHRA) is part of the suite of state risk assessments undertaken by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), providing the foundational heatwave risk assessment for all tiers of government, non-government organisations, not-for-profit organisations, disaster management groups, and others with legislated roles in disaster management. It is the first, jurisdictionally-based risk assessment to feature long-term climate change projections using downscaled regional modelling undertaken by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES).
SHRA was developed to provide all stakeholders with clear and consistent information regarding the changing nature of heatwave risk in Queensland. It was a collaborative effort between multiple stakeholders, coordinated through a working group led by QFES, Queensland Health, and DES.
SHRA found that the extreme heatwaves and bushfires across Queensland in 2018–2019 were an indication that the State is facing unprecedented challenges in understanding and responding to the impacts of natural hazards in a changing climate.
The assessment is intended to enable state agencies and disaster management groups to inform their planning against current and future heatwave risk whilst making a number of clear recommendations that, if enacted, would increase resilience to current and future heatwave risk.
Under the Queensland State Disaster Management Plan, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) is responsible for the conduct of a state-level disaster risk assessment.
All Australian jurisdictions were required to produce a state level natural hazard risk assessment in June 2017 as directed by the Commonwealth Government. This was the first state-level assessment using the Queensland Emergency Risk Management Framework (QERMF). While the framework can accommodate all hazards, this initial, macro-level, assessment was limited to the natural hazards that have the most significant impact to the State of Queensland. As such, the risk assessment was conducted against the 7 most prevalent natural hazards that may impact Queensland:
- tropical cyclones
- riverine flooding
- coastal inundation (storm surge)
- severe thunderstorm events
The future iteration of the State Natural Hazard Risk Assessment 2017, the State Disaster Risk Report 2020, has an expanded scope that will encompass the majority of disaster events identified within the Disaster Management Act 2003.
The Queensland Government is helping Queenslanders prepare for climate change in partnership with the Local Government Association of Queensland.
This includes supporting local government to plan for and respond to climate change by strengthening internal council decision-making processes through the Queensland Climate Resilient Councils program. The QCoast2100 program invests in development of local government coastal hazard adaptation plans to better plan and respond to coastal hazards.
The Queensland Government is building leadership capacity within communities to develop place-based, low carbon development roadmaps, supporting Indigenous communities in Queensland’s far north to install new renewable energy systems, supporting Great Barrier Reef island communities with business cases for resilience and emissions reduction projects, and developed a resource to help schools across Queensland become climate ready.
The Minister for Transport and Main Roads released The Future is Electric: Queensland’s Electric Vehicle Strategy (EV Strategy) on 4 October 2017. The EV Strategy is the beginning of a new era in transport fuel sources that will also include bio-fuels and alternative new technologies such as hydrogen to support environmentally-friendly transport options, particularly from renewable energy.
The EV Strategy is positioning Queensland for an increase in electric vehicles. It outlines 16 cost-effective initiatives to empower consumers, enable supporting infrastructure, explore cost-effective support programs and envisage future government actions.
One of the key actions from the EV Strategy is the Queensland Electric Super Highway (QESH), a series of 18 fast charging stations from Coolangatta north to Cairns and Brisbane west to Toowoomba, completed in 2018 Planning for phase 2 of the QESH is well underway, with construction due for completion by end 2020.