Climate change: Is Cairns getting hotter?


A DRAMATIC spike in temperatures has alarm bells ringing as a new report is released outlining the city's biggest wins and losses in the battle against pollution.

Cairns Regional Council's State of the Environment report is an annual benchmark of the local government's clean and green ­credentials.

One statistic stood out from the pack this time around. The city recorded 16 days with temperatures topping 35C in 2018-19, up from two the previous year and well above the yearly average of 3.3 days calculated from 1942-2018.

The report said the city must prepare for higher temperatures, rising seas, less frequent but more intense cyclones, warmer and more acidic seas and more frequent sea-level extremes, all caused by climate change.

To that end, the council has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent from 2008-2021. It is edging tantalisingly close to that target with a 46 per cent drop so far, but the campaign took a backwards step last year.

"Council's greenhouse gas emissions increased by 3.5 per cent in 2018-19 since 2017-18," the document states. "This was largely due to increased … electricity use and additional street, traffic and public lighting."

Cairns recorded 16 days with temperatures topping 35C in 2018-19
Cairns recorded 16 days with temperatures topping 35C in 2018-19

Infrastructure services general manager Bruce Gardiner told Wednesday's meeting the council was actively investigating whether to switch its fleet to electric vehicles.

"We've had some Priuses and other vehicles in the fleet before but the fully electric vehicles, at the moment, they're not really price competitive at this point in time.

"But that is rapidly changing, particularly in European countries (where) 30-40 per cent of vehicles are fully electric. Australia hasn't caught up yet but we're actively watching that space."

Even so, fuel use in council vehicles dropped by 2.9 per cent over the year.

It was offset by a 4.7 per cent rise in electricity use largely due to an 18.7 per cent increase in use by council facilities - mainly attributed to the reconnection of the new Cairns Performing Arts Centre.

However, the council produced 168 per cent more solar energy than it did in 2018-19.

"We look forward to further reducing environmental impacts on behalf of the community and encourage all to join in protecting and enhancing this environment we are all privileged to enjoy," Mayor Bob Manning said.

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Public forums to give voice to coastline concerns of local communities

COASTAL communities have been called to voice their opinion on the biggest risks to the Cairns coastline at two public forums next week.

Cairns Regional Council will hold consultation meetings in its Spence St civic rooms to seek feedback and provide an update on the Cairns Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy.

The council has identified 68 "adaptation options" to protect the coast from threats such as erosion, rising seas and storm tides, and wants to gauge the response from coastal residents and community groups.

"Protecting our coast requires long-term planning and we are calling on the expertise and experience in our whole community to help with this planning," Mayor Bob Manning said.

Options include mangrove plantings, sand replenishment, rock walls and groynes, and planning scheme amendments.

Residents with an interest in the northern suburbs can attend Monday's meeting from 5pm-7pm, with the CBD and southern suburbs meeting on Tuesday from 5pm-7pm. RSVPs via the council website are essential.

Originally published as Environment report: Is Cairns getting hotter?