Artist’s impression of the new city.
The new city bears a colonial name and there are questions about locating it in the hottest part of Sydney, but we are also seeing all 3 tiers of government work together in an innovative way.
Very hot days in Western Sydney are typically 5 degrees hotter than parts of the city close to the coast and are becoming more common, but only in the west. Four climate drivers explain the difference.
Voters in the region have long been seen as caring more about their finances than green issues. But living through extreme heat, rain and floods has them focused on living with climate change.
Planting trees in urban areas can reduce the impacts of urban heat islands.
In 2015, 6,700 premature deaths were caused by urban heat – this can be reduced by a third by planting more trees.
Australian cities remain woefully unprepared for the more extreme weather we are already seeing with climate change. But some cities overseas stand out for having developed readymade solutions.
The first chief heat officers appointed in Australia are part of a global partnership that’s responding to the dangers of rising city temperatures and the need to manage the risks.
Photo: Jaana Dielenberg
Urban plantings are part of the solution to living in warmer cities, but most tree and shrub species in the world’s cities will struggle too. The impacts on liveability could be huge.
Western Sydney can be up to 10℃ hotter than the coast. Poorly constructed housing can’t handle the heat.
Rising global temperatures are increasing heat risks for outdoor workers and the urban poor.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images
Hot, humid population centers are becoming epicenters of heat risk as climate changes worsens. It’s calling into question the conventional wisdom that urbanization uniformly reduces poverty.
As our cities get hotter, rebuilding whole suburbs better suited to the heat is not an option. Instead, we can draw from the best examples of how to adapt neighbourhoods and behaviours.
Climate models are likely underestimating the true severity of future warming in urban areas.
Buildings soak up the sun’s heat, but research shows that white roofs and surfaces can reduce temperatures inside, particularly during heat waves.
Half-a-dozen strategies are effective for cooling urban areas. Used in combination, these strategies can drop the temperature even more.
At the peak of a summer heatwave in Adelaide, an aerial survey of land surface temperatures reveals just how much cooler neighbourhoods with good tree and vegetation cover can be.
Inner Melbourne alone has lost 2,000 street trees to major developments within a decade. Losing tree cover makes it even more difficult for our cities to cope with an increasingly tough climate.
Even without air conditioning, there are still many things you can do to prepare for extreme heat and stay comfortable on hot days.
Air conditioning isn’t the answer for everyone, especially for residents of the less affluent – and often hotter – suburbs of our big cities. But there are other ways to make hot days more bearable.
Where’s the shade? Trees are not an immediate or whole answer to keeping cool.
Trees and the shade they provide are one of the best ways of cooling cities. But they also present challenges that are best resolved by managing this shared resource as part of an urban commons.
During a heatwave in late 2018, Cairns temperatures topped 35°C nine days in a row and sensors at some points in the CBD recorded 45°C.
The world’s fastest-growing cities are in the tropics. They are highly exposed to climate change, especially as urban heat island effects and humidity magnify the impacts of increasing heatwaves.
Increasing heat in Sydney and other Australian cities highlights the urgent need to apply our knowledge of how to create liveable low-carbon cities.
The research has been done. The evidence is in. We know how to create cities that are sustainable, liveable and affordable. But we have yet to apply that knowledge widely across Australian cities.
Australian cities could lose some of their most common trees to climate change.
Thirty tree species make up more than half of Australia’s urban forests. Some won’t survive climate change, so cities must plant a more diverse mix of the right species to preserve their tree cover.