Climate change impacts in Merri-bek
The impacts of climate change are already being felt. As the climate continues to warm, this will affect everyone in Merri-bek – residents, businesses, community groups and visitors.A temperature rise above 1.5°C will lead to major and irreversible damage, impacting many aspects of our lives.
What changes are we seeing to Merri-bek’s weather?
Research from the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the CSIRO predict that Greater Melbourne (including Merri-bek) will face the following weather impacts:
- Increasing temperatures: increases in the daily maximum temperatures, the number of hot days above 35°C (currently 8.3 days a year, expected to reach an average of 21 by 2050) and number of heatwave events.
- More extreme rainfall events: these events damage infrastructure. For example, in 2018 Melbourne experienced a 1 in 1000 year rainfall event resulting in flash flooding, train lines suspended and power outages across the city.
- Decrease in winter and spring rainfall: by 2050, there will be 20% less rainfall during spring in Melbourne. This means more severe dry conditions in the lead up to the summer bushfire season, made worse by longer droughts.
- More frequent and intense bushfires: fire days are projected to increase by 42% per year in Melbourne by 2050 and are associated with reductions in air quality (in January 2020 Melbourne’s air quality was the worst in the world due to smoke from bushfires).
What do these impacts mean for Merri-bek residents and our plants and animals?
Our health is suffering:
- People, especially our most vulnerable residents, suffer injury, illness and death from extreme weather events including bushfires, floods and storms and heatwaves.
- Incidences of respiratory disease increase due to air pollutants and allergens from bushfire smoke and changing pollen loads from more frequent thunderstorm asthma events.
- Diverse mental health impacts including post-traumatic stress disorder following extreme weather events and disasters and rising levels of anxiety and depression about future climate change risks and consequences.
Our plants and animals are in decline:
- Many species are unable to adapt to the rapid changes in their environment, accelerating losses of populations and species, particularly groundwater-dependent plants and animals.
- The drought and heat stress have accelerated the decline of Melbourne’s current tree population (maintaining trees is vital for reducing the Urban Heat Island Effect and drawing down emissions).
- Warm-adapted species are increasing at the expense of cool-adapted species reducing biodiversity and disrupting food webs.
- Our food security is at risk:
- Reduced agricultural production from the Victorian and national food sources that Merri-bek relies on due to rising temperatures, reductions in average rainfall and more frequent and severe extreme weather events.
- Fewer regional and national food surpluses, with the likelihood of deficits in some years.
- Our infrastructure is under strain:
- Trams and trains stop running in extreme weather.
- Heat waves create increased demand on our power systems as more people use air conditioners, which in turn increases emissions and worsens the greenhouse effect.
Will all Merri-bek residents be affected equally by climate change?
Climate change is a global phenomenon with localised consequencesbut not all people are impacted equally. Effects are shaped by pervasive and entrenched social inequalities such as poverty, discrimination, health vulnerabilities and trauma. Some of the most impacted groups include:
- Indigenous people
- People living with a disability
- People experiencing homelessness, economic hardship and isolation
Moreland City Council is committed to strong leadership on climate action. By working with the community, we can all help reduce these impacts.