Central Victoria is home to a large number of diverse businesses which are ever changing. Growth in the manufacturing sector in the City of Greater Bendigo, for example, is projected at 800 new jobs over the next five years. Managing this growth is a key issue for local and regional governance. Doing this in a variable and changing climate is an additional challenge addressed by this think tank.
- It was clear from the presentations and discussions that climate variability, climate change and climate related risks will impact on different types of industries in quite different ways. There is a wide variability in the types of climate events to which different businesses are susceptible. Potential changes in the frequency and intensity of these events are often not well described in general projections of future climate and changes in average conditions. One role of government in supporting adaptation is to inform industry and community about future risks. Messages about climate change adaptation planning should therefore recognise the diverse nature of interests of small to medium sized businesses in regional Victoria and the variety of potential climate hazards they may face.
- Many business owners do not have a good understanding of their potential risks. Government needs to invest in improved climate risk assessment tools such as mapping of flood, wind, hail. heat, fire or other hazards and in improved warning systems for different types of hazards to allow businesses to respond effectively.
- Larger businesses are generally well informed of climate risks and have sufficient internal capacity to respond effectively. Government policy should focus on programs and actions to support small to medium sized businesses in regional Victoria in both mitigating climate change (including increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and adapting to changing climate risks. The distinction between mitigation and adaptation needs to be made clear, although the best examples will be where firms are undertaking actions that meet both objectives.
- Likely potential climate risks and opportunities and options for adapting to climate change in different types of businesses should be incorporated into business assistance, education and training programs.