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What should be the role for each of the three levels of government in australia in helping queensland adapt to climate change?


1. What are the key climate change adaptation issues that need to be addressed in Queensland?

2. What powers* are granted to each level of government under the Australian Constitution and Queensland Local Government Act that could be used to address these issues?

3. What should be the role of the Commonwealth (national) government?

4. What should be the role of the Queensland state government?

5. What should be the role of the local governments in Queensland?

6. How could these three levels of government work together to develop and deliver more appropriate, effective and efficient climate change adaptation policies?

7. How would what you propose improve each step of the policy cycle?

Issues of adaptation climate change that should be addressed in the state of Queensland

Climate is constantly changing in Queensland, the climate in Queensland is changing in a way that tends to influence several responsibilities and roles of the local government. The changes in climate change are because of many factors. It was stated by the Intergovernmental Panel that the average temperature of the world is expected to continue increasing from degrees Celsius of about 1.1 to about 6.4 degrees Celsius. This is expected to occur until the year 2100 (Field, 2012). This essay analyses the roles of the three different levels of Australia government in helping Queensland adapt to the changes in climatic conditions. The paper consists of seven sections. The first one addresses Queensland’s adaptation issues to be addressed, then another section details the Australian Constitution and the powers that it has granted to each level of government under the Act of Queensland's local Government that could be applied in addressing the issues of climate, the essay also looks at Commonwealth or the National government roles in addressing the changes in climate, what the role of the government of Queensland’s state should be, what the roles Queensland local governments should be , how the three different levels of the governance could work together to develop appropriate policies then finally a proposal on how to better each step in the cycle of policies.

The 4.5 million population mark was reached in the state of Queensland in 2010, and more than 3 million of the population leaves in the economic hub of Southeast Queensland (SEQ). The economic hub stretches from Noosa which is in the north to Coolangatta which is to the west and south of Toowoomba. The population of SEQ by 2031 will be about 4 million people which entails in two decades an increase in population by about 1 million people. (Local Government Association of Queensland, 2007). Climate change impacts that affect the coastal area in SEQ includes storm surge events and the rise in sea levels (Brooks, 2006). These impacts are expected to have a significant effect on the economic, social and environmental consequences. The growth of population that is ongoing and whose outcome is the development in the coastal areas that are highly urbanized seems to end up exacerbating the impacts that are predicted in the coastal areas. Therefore to improve the adaptation of the coastal communities that are highly vulnerable will require levels of planning that are much greater.

The other key issue related to adaptation that should be addressed in the state of Queensland include disproportionate impacts on the low-income earners and the disadvantaged communities in Queensland. Many of these groups are likely to be adversely affected by climate changes directly. They are also expected to lack the ability than the other-abled groups to relocate to other area or to make necessary adjustments in their ways of leaving. In accordance to the Intergovernmental Panel that deals with changes in climate (IPCC),  The climate change impacts will tend to fall disproportionately on the developing countries and the people who are poor in all countries (Ford, 2011). This, therefore, increase the inequalities in the health status and adequate food access, other resources and clean water (Mack, 2005).              

Powers allocated to every government level in the Constitution of Australian and local government of Queensland act that to be used in addressing the issues.

The other issue is the water supply issues. The modeling of climate in Queensland indicates that by the year 2050 the rainfall is likely to be variable the variability is likely to range across the different states in Australia. The variability will be characterized by total rainfall reduction in some regions while it remains stable in some other regions. The temperature and rates of evaporation are also likely to increase across the entire state, and this, therefore, suggests that the regional water impact will be reduced in the surface water available in the dams and other water catchment areas. Extreme events in the region in the form of tropical cyclones is highly variable regarding their intensity and their frequency. There are projections that indicate that the proportion of cyclones will increase in categories which are more intense. The cyclones that are more intense in Queensland could result in the damage of infrastructure and the decline of agricultural production output. A category 4 Larry resulted in 2006 in losses that exceeded 500 million dollars. This, therefore, great change adaptation issue which needs to be dealt with (Local Government Association of Queensland, 2007).

While acting on several issues related to climate change, several powers have been constitutionally given to the different government levels in Australia. The Australian Constitution in sections 52 and 51 gives specific powers to the Commonwealth. Section 51 entails the powers to external affairs (Hoff, 2010). This power of external relations at the Commonwealth level of government regarding climate change is important since they enable the Australian government to have powers that it could use in enforcing the international treaties that include the Framework Convention of United Nations on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol (Crawford, 1991).  Therefore this is essential in reducing the effects or trying to control climate change and therefore addressing the issues in climate change adaptation. The remaining powers that are unspecified to the commonwealth are usually allocated to states. This is to enable a wider degree of the freedom of acting on the change of climate. This is therefore essential since it gives the states the ability to appropriately formulate policies that will help in the fight against climate change and its associated adaptability issues (Burton, 2007).

 The constitution does not also mention the local governments. However, the legislations that are formulated such as the Queensland local governments act of the year 2009 section nine and ten. The Constitutional Act in section 9 states that local governments possess the powers of acting on anything that is convenient or necessary for the local government and good rule of its local area. Therefore the local government has the power to formulate policies that will enable Queensland to look at the impact adaptability issues that relate to changes in climate. Section 10, on the other hand, states that a local government in Australia can exercise its power based on the cooperation with the state and commonwealth government and one or more local government in conducting a particular joint government activity (Baker, 2012). To effectively address the issues the local and Commonwealth governments need to effectively cooperate with each other. Once the deep cooperation is in place each of the levels of government will effectively use the powers allocated to them and in turn, try to solve the issues.

The role of the national government

The Commonwealth role or the national government at helping Queensland in the adaption to the climatic changes should be wide and very effective. The roles of the national government should be in such a way that they address the basic issues that the people of Queensland face. The Commonwealth government should use two distinct policy instruments in addressing the global climate change issues. The first one should be domestic policy instruments that are intended for enabling Australia as a whole, and that includes Queensland to achieve its specifically desired goals. The domestic policy involves the formulation of policies that will help check and limit the amounts of carbon emissions. Carbon emission is the major cause of climate change associated issues the national government should, therefore, formulate policies that will help curb the emission levels this is by setting up standards that will help regulate the activities of firms and individuals. An example is the use of emission taxes whereby a charge is imposed per unit of the pollutants discharged (Williams, 2016).

The second policy instrument should be using the international multilateral, global and bilateral instruments which can be jointly employed by a group of nations. The policies should be used with an anticipation that the climate change stringent policies will end up being adopted by the individual nations to the degree that those nations believe that the positive outcomes should be expected (siniscalco, 1998). Therefore any design formulated to combat climate change must be translated into the national measures (Nordhaus, 2015).

The national government can impose policies such as the uniform technology performance standards. In this policy, it is required that the use of a certain specified process or procedures and equipment. The requirements could either be that certain types of combustion processes, efficient motors, and method of gas collection be used by different firms. It puts emphasize on the use of standards based on performance and which is more flexible than the technology-based standards (Shafiullah, 2010). This ensures that certain allowable levels of emissions are maintained and should not be exceeded. An example is a use of the standard for greenhouse gas abated that entails the set maximum limits on the emissions of carbon dioxide. The use of uniform standards in the state can also be imposed by the ban of certain products such as sprays containing substances that can deplete the ozone layer (Stavins, 2002).

Queensland should continue formulating policies that include the incorporation of the risks of changes of climate and the issues in Queensland into the regional plans that are stationary. The policies should be able to make it easier to manage the different problems that are associated with climate change. The policies should also entail the inclusion of the figures of sea levels in the planning of the coastal programs (Gurran, 2011). This will help in assisting the agricultural industries that lapsed without replacements in the year 2012. The climate change adaptation policies are policies whose mandate is to reduce consequences of climatic changes. The consequences can either be on human or natural systems. The adaptation action policies by the government can take various forms that include transforming the systems that are existing so as to reduce their chances of being exposed to the climate change risks (Zeppel, 2012, p. 29). Another example is building of strong existing natural and human systems that can recover or withstand the climate-related damages. An example is the construction of flood leaves that will help protect the existing structures and developments. Also defending the ecosystem from different harmful threats such as weeds and pests (Australian Local Government Association, 2010).

The role of the state government

Queensland state government should ensure science and policy integration and sectorial approach to adaptation. The main roles of Queensland government should be the provision of emergency services, electricity transmission, water security, and transportation networks. The state also has a responsibility of working with the stakeholders in protecting the environment and its ecosystem from the risks of climatic change. The state also has a role of providing the relevant regional information about the management of privately held climate risks effectively. The state government has a role to ensure the creation and ensuring that regulation, planning and the market frameworks do deal with the climate risks appropriately. The state of Queensland has already implemented a variety of roles to help it effectively deal with the issues arising from climate change. Some of the implemented policies include the Queensland climate change center for excellence which acts as a specialist for the government of climate matters (Akbar, 2010). This has made Queensland be the only territory or state that is dedicated to the capacity of climate science. Also, the climate-smart adaptation plan has been implemented. About sixty-two action strategies are contained in the plan for the implementation process.

Since changes in climate is characterized by natural hazard occurrences in a different altered regime, it can be compelled to be a disaster that needs to be managed. The use of land strategically by planning is one of the critical tools for mitigating and adapting to the hazardous events (pillar, 2010). The Queensland local government, therefore, has a role and responsibilities in the disaster management aspects and the planning of land use as the core function of the local government in climate management. The two functions when used together form the part of the preparedness of prevention, recovery and the response to a disaster in disaster management processes. Because of the growing concern of climate change and the given impacts that are associated with the rising sea levels, the natural hazards altered risks and the flooding it is important for the local government to take over some roles in disaster management (Gurran, 2008).

Some of the roles of local governments in climate management issues include linking of disaster management with and land use planning with climate change. When dealing with the change in climate, it not only involves gas emissions greenhouse managements, but it means also minimization of risks associated with natural hazards through the process of adaptation and mitigation (Gurran, 2008). The mitigation process entails measures that will help in gas emissions reduction and thus the minimization of the probable future effects of climate change.  Some of the measures include the use of stricter energy, water efficiency and environmental standards (Wilson, 1994, p. 287).

Some adaptation measures can also be employed, and they include the measures to the reduction of coastal hazards such as reinforcing of coastal flood barriers and foreshore vegetation re-establishment. Several mitigation measures whose roles should lie with the local government exist in Australia. Some of them include energy efficient buildings construction, habitat conservation and designation of areas, harvesting of the water from the storm and using it in irrigation, and finally the use of gray water recycling. The adaptation measures that need to be employed by the local government include the placement of moratorium on development, determination of the legal ability for coastal front development past approvals and refusing of the development in the coastal regions because of the anticipatory levels of the sea rises (Bryne, 2009).  The other role of the local government should be the disaster management. The disaster management should be done through preparedness, recovery, and prevention (Bajracharya, 2011, p. 16). It is also known as the PPRR framework (Beatley, 2009). Prevention or mitigation should focus on the long-term proactive steps such as the prohibition of the construction of buildings in areas that are prone to floods. Preparedness and responsiveness entail dealing with the immediate concerns of safety and health (Beatley, 2009). The main role of the local government is the development of an analytical framework that deals with reduction of emissions of gasses, planning for natural hazards and the building of community resilience. Therefore the local government has a responsibility of monitoring the environmental patterns and ensure that pollution is reduced.

The role of local governments in Queensland

The state, federal and the local governments have different responsibilities, but the different responsibilities are also complementary. The three government levels, therefore, need to work closely for the best results in climate change effects limitations and management. In helping those living in Queensland adjust to the impacts of changes in climate. The risks of climate change tend to vary among different regions. Therefore, the government of Queensland objectives of adaptations can only be achieved with a close partnership with the national and local governments. The local level governments are usually on the frontline of handling several climate change impacts.  Therefore, this means that they do take a vital role in ensuring that local circumstances in a particular area are considered adequately in the overall decision-making process (Hennessy, 2007). The national government in turn mainly deals with the foreign affairs of climate change. Therefore adaptation in Queensland State effectiveness will increase and cheaper if every government level do provide consistent, information appropriation and also provision of incentives.

The policy cycle being employed by the three levels of government in Queensland is far from perfect. Therefore some improvements in the policy cycle need to be introduced. One of the improvements that should be done is the strengthening of the current policies. This should be done by increasing the level of punishment to those who don't follow the set climate policies. Another improvement is increasing the number of fine charged to industries that do not fully implement the set policies. Cooperation's between the state of Queensland, the local government of Queensland and the international community should be increased in the fight against climate change. This is basically because climate change affects the whole world in an equal manner. More resource allocation is needed to the departments that deal with climate change this will encourage innovation since the added resources will be used in carrying out research on how best to address the climate change issues. Queensland should embrace the emerging policy and frameworks that help in dealing with climate change an example is frameworks that deal with land use, disaster management and climate change.     


This essay has shown that climate change is a vital and serious issue facing the different levels of government in the region of Queensland. The attention how limit the gas emission levels is not enough alone. It has also been shown that all levels of government have to work closely together for there to be a success in addressing the climate change issues. There should be therefore the will to build a community which is resilient and which has a minimal vulnerability. The building of such a community has to be done by all levels of government working together. Policies also need to be implemented and should include the planning of land use and disaster management which are linked together.

The study essay has shown that three different levels of the government have different roles in climate change adaptation assistance to Queensland. However, some of the roles have been found to be intertwined and to be closely linked to each other and therefore the importance of the different levels of government to work together.

How the three different levels of governance could work together to develop appropriate policies


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