From relentless droughts to worse floods, more frequent and dangerous bushfires, heat stroke deaths and mental health impacts; the permanent effects of climate change will place a heavy burden on the New England region.
That's according to a bushfire-affected council's Climate Risk Assessment and Adaption Plan adopted on Thursday night.
The plan identified no less than 48 risks to the Glen Innes region generated by climate change. Eight were considered high risk, 27 medium risk and 11 of low risk.
Glen Innes Severn Council (GISC) will now begin work on an adaption strategy - a "key strategic objective of the 2021-2025 delivery program" - and an emissions reduction plan.
The council will also lobby for the development of a Regional Response and Recovery Taskforce to act as an emergency response to future climate-driven crises, plus a regional adaption planning response to climate change.
The proactive risk assessment and adaption plan follows a declaration of climate emergency last year. In February 2020, GISC became the smallest and most rural council in NSW to do so.
The declaration came hot on the heels of the region's worst-ever bushfire crisis, which left two people dead, hundreds of homes and a primary school destroyed and much of the region's wilderness in ruins. The region also endured its worst-ever drought, which left the community on Level Five water restrictions.
Global warming will generate "increased costs associated with health care, social services, public administration and safety, education and training, both in terms of delivery of current programs and upskilling to maintain those services," the plan said.
Even the mental health of council staff will be affected.
They have already spent time responding to "climate-related events" creating a backlog on other work.
GISC development, regulatory and sustainability director Graham Price told councillors there is no silver bullet to solve the problem.
"You couldn't believe we could have so many events happen in such a short amount of time, from famine, droughts, and floods, and pestilence. It's extraordinary times," he said on Thursday.
"The bottom line is there's no silver bullets in here. Major bushfires, droughts are going to put an enormous strain on our resources."
Glen Innes mayor Carol Sparks told the Leader that the council will progress with its climate action plan focusing on emissions reduction.
The risk assessment identified that staff aren't trained in climate adaption and that either new roles need to be created, or old ones modified.
The region's Climate Change Snapshot, published by the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage forecasts average temperatures in Glen Innes to heat by 0.9 degrees. By 2070, the region will be 2.2 degrees warmer on average.
As a result, the region is likely to suffer from increased average temperatures, more hot days, less rainfall, but more floods and above all worse and more frequent bushfires.
GISC had adopted a previous climate change risk assessment in 2013.
The town recorded its hottest ever day in 2019, 36.8 degrees. 2019 also had the hottest average temperature on record, 22.6 degrees.
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