Financial experts caution Council on risks to Peninsula

Published on 07 February 2019

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Earlier this week, a group of Mornington Peninsula Shire Councillors and senior officers attended a presentation about the financial and liability risks to Council, business and community if climate change action and mitigation is not integrated across Council activities now. 

Sarah Barker, Special Counsel at Minter Ellison, spoke on the approaches being taken by corporate organisations worldwide including the World Economic Forum, global banks, rating agencies and insurance agencies, to address climate change risk in their operations.

Sarah stressed the issue has progressed far beyond a purely environmental impact and is now a serious financial consideration for industries and communities across the globe. 

Shire Mayor Cr David Gill said Council welcomed the opportunity to learn more about global approaches to climate change risk.

“It was great to hear from an industry expert and reinforce the knowledge that our efforts to adapt Council operations and support our community are in line with global trends.

“Sarah presented a different lens on the potential risks to our community and highlighted the Peninsula’s vulnerability to sea level rise in low lying areas. The productivity of our agricultural sector is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change through increased drought, increased frequency of storms and the intensity of storms causing flash flooding. 

“Council is working to ensure the Shire and community are well equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to prepare for these risks and reduce liability.  

“Council has an active ongoing program of identifying our key climate change risks to infrastructure, the environment, service delivery, finance and our community and setting actions and controls in place to minimise these risks” Cr Gill concluded. 

Seawinds Ward Cr Simon Brooks was one of five Councillors in attendance and said “Council regards climate change risk and working with our communities to adapt and mitigate against climate change, as one of our highest priorities. We have an obligation to limit impact and also a need to lessen liability to our ratepayers long after this Council term is over.

“The knowledge gained today will help us continue to make change at an operational level and plan for the future impacts of climate change. Sarah explained that the risks have now been well and truly identified with the recent World Economic Forum placing climate change and its impacts as the single biggest threat to the economic and political order”. 

The Shire’s Manager Climate Change, Energy and Water, Melissa Burrage said Council has been proactive in leading the way for the community to take action. 

“We’re determined to shape a council and community prepared to respond to the impacts of climate change across all areas of our operations, especially planning, infrastructure, finance and the environment”.

Council is actively reducing its own operational emissions and plan to become Carbon Neutral accredited by 2021. Recently council also adopted a new Climate Change Community Engagement Strategy designed to help our community reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be better prepared for the impacts of climate change. 

As part of the Strategy, the Shire has committed to work with the community to achieve a minimum community greenhouse gas emission reduction of 2.9% annually and is working towards a target of zero greenhouse gas emissions for the Peninsula. 

View the plan, find out more about what the Shire is doing to tackle climate change and discover what you can do to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change online at:

You can also visit the Eco Living Display Centre at The Briars (450 Nepean Hwy, Mount Martha) to see what you can do around the home to reduce your water, energy and waste. The Eco Centre is open by appointment and runs regular workshops. 

Learn more at: or email

PICTURE CAPTION: L-R Mornington Peninsula Shire Nepean Ward Councillor Bryan Payne, Seawinds Ward Councillor Simon Brooks, CEO of the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance Dominique La Fontaine, Special Counsel at Minter Ellison Sarah Barker, Shire Mayor and Red Hill Ward Councillor David Gill, Briars Ward Councillor Rosie Clark and Seawinds Ward Councillor Antonella Celi attending the Climate Change Risk presentation.

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