As our preparedness for the predicted severe climate impacts this Summer is debated, it is clear that the Victorian Labor government needs to act on climate adaptation. Victorian communities want and need funding to adapt to incoming climate impacts.
This is why we are calling on the Victorian Labor government to establish a permanent Victorian Community Climate Adaptation Fund (VCCAF).
We’ve just had the hottest July ever recorded, followed by the hottest August and the hottest September. This is after last year’s record rainfall, which caused widespread flooding, with 2022 also setting new records for maximum daily temperatures.
As we head into a Summer of severe heat that is predicted to have extremely hot days and increased fire danger, we and many in the community are anxious about our preparedness and resilience in the face of already locked-in climate impacts.
Worsening extreme weather is endangering Victorians' way of life, from working life to recreational pursuits. It shouldn’t be this way. A responsible government should ensure that its citizens are as safe as possible and enable communities to do everything possible to prepare for these already locked-in climate impacts.
Victoria and the rest of the country need to be prepared for already locked in climate impacts. We need community-led climate adaptation.
We know that we are now living on a hotter, more volatile planet due to climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels, and that we can expect worsening weather extremes that will affect our entire lives, from climate disasters, to health impacts to food security.
Community members are worried and want funding to adapt and protect their town from known climate risks, not disaster relief after their town has already been destroyed.
Communities know what climate adaptation plans and projects are most needed and relevant for them, but they are not getting the support they urgently need to implement them. They are looking to the state government for leadership and assistance to adapt to climate impacts.
While the government has undertaken adaptation planning work, this has not been sufficiently acted on and has not been backed up with ongoing funding to prepare communities for the climate impacts forecast to affect Victoria.
Communities need funding to accomplish their visions for resilience and to achieve their needs to adapt to climate impacts.
This is why Act on Climate is calling on the Victorian Labor government to establish a permanent Victorian Community Climate Adaptation Fund (VCCAF).
The fund would distribute grant money annually to community groups that apply for funding to undertake localised adaptation and resilience projects, ensuring that Victorian communities have the ability to better adapt to incoming climate impacts.
A permanent Victorian Community Climate Adaptation Fund (VCCAF) builds on previous grant funding for climate adaptation and would make this funding a continuing feature of the Victorian budget.
One-off adaptation grant funding has been previously provided by the Victorian government through the 2017 Virtual Centre for Climate Change Innovation Program (VCCIP) and the 2019 Community Climate Change Adaptation (3CA) grants program.
The $4.3 million VCCIP grant scheme provided start-up funding for community groups, local councils and businesses to develop innovative solutions to climate change. The scheme unearthed strong demand for government investment in climate change projects - it was dramatically oversubscribed, but could only support 24 projects.
Community groups across Victoria were supported to carry out a diverse range of adaptation and resilience projects through the $1 million 3CA grants program: from planting nature corridors, to trialling drought-proofing techniques, to community education and awareness initiatives.
A permanent VCCAF builds on these successful grant scheme models. The fund would recognise the highly localised nature of climate impacts and ensure community-led climate adaptation, taking a bottom-up approach of dispersing money to local groups that know the unique needs of their communities well.
Every step we take to help communities adapt to locked-in climate impacts secures a safer future and builds resilience, protecting people and country.
Funding adaptation also reduces the cost of climate disasters. A 2021 report found that climate change-related disasters will cost Australia $73 billion a year by 2060, even if action to curb emissions is taken now. There are also very large indirect social costs, such as the impact on people’s mental health.
The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority has warned that Australia must spend $3.5 billion annually to limit damage from climate-related disasters. It says that waiting to repair the damage after the fact is likely to cost 11 times more. However, in the 20 years to 2022, $24 billion was spent on disaster recovery and relief efforts (98% of disaster spending). Only $510 million was spent on resilience projects (2% of disaster spending).
In addition, climate change is creating an insurability crisis in Australia due to worsening extreme weather. The insurance industry is warning that Australia must urgently adapt to extreme weather or face soaring premiums. Insurance is set to become increasingly unaffordable or unavailable in large parts of Australia.
The Victorian Labor government has set ambitious emission reduction targets and renewable energy targets and has proactively communicated the positive outcomes of investing in these solutions to communities. It is now time for it to take action on the need for adaptation to climate impacts, rather than focusing on disaster response and recovery.
With intensifying impacts from fire, flood, storm surge and other weather related events continuing to put communities on a reactive footing, the time is ripe for the government to demonstrate a forward-thinking approach to climate impacts and back local solutions that empower communities.
We need community-led climate adaptation that is continuously and adequately funded.
What can you do to support this ask?
Add your name to show your support for a permanent Victorian Community Climate Adaptation Fund.
The Frontline Climate Alliance Victoria will build grassroots power for community-led adaptation solutions, and build pressure on the Vic government to act on and resource climate adaptation.
And keep an eye on Act on Climate newsletters for further future actions to take, including making a submission to the upcoming Inquiry into Victoria's Preparedness for Climate Disasters in 2024, and other ways you can help show community support for adequate funding for climate adaptation.