In recent years, Australia has experienced unprecedented heat, including heatwaves and record-breaking hot days, months, seasons and years. Australia has a naturally variable climate, but recent studies show that our recent extremes are already being influenced by climate change. Even if the Paris agreement to limit the global temperature rise to below 2C is met, summer heatwaves in major Australian cities are likely to reach highs of 50C by mid-century.
Grey infrastructure, roads, and buildings will absorb all that heat, get much hotter, and take two to three times as long to cool down. Public transport will literally melt on really hot days. How will people go to work, take their children to school? Emergency departments will be overwhelmed from increased demand from elderly people and others vulnerable to heatstroke. Energy requirements will skyrocket during peak temperatures.
What role can planners play to fight climate change?
- We need a plan to cut emissions!
- We must dramatically improve our built environment to cope!
We need to begin designing cities that take advantage of wind, green spaces, and shade whilst still being cost-effective. We need to curtail driving and encourage 0-emissions transport such as walking and cycling. We need to upgrade housing standards and retrofit older homes to make them more energy efficient and cooler.
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