WITH EXTREME HEAT DAYS set to become a more common summer occurrence in Adelaide due to climate change, the city’s plan to combat heat has been praised by the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership.
Cities Power Partnership director Alix Pearce said that Adelaide’s record-breaking summer temperatures are a stark reminder of the urgent need to tackle climate change.
“Climate change is cranking up the intensity of extreme heat in South Australia, with sweltering temperatures becoming the new normal,” she said.
“We are seeing heatwaves starting earlier, lasting longer and occurring more often. And the number of record hot days has doubled over the last 50 years.”
To prepare for extreme summer temperatures, the City of Adelaide is working on strategies to help keep residents cool. These include a plan to plant 1,500 new street trees in built up areas of the city by 2020.
Climate Council senior energy analyst Petra Stock said that street trees can have an important role in alleviating the urban heat island effect, which sees the temperatures in the Adelaide CBD rise up to 1.5 degrees higher than surrounding parklands.
“Street trees play an important role in helping to keep cities cool, and can help residents to manage energy use on extreme heat days, with research showing that an appropriately placed tree can cut air-conditioner use by 20 to 30%,” she said.
“Local governments like Adelaide can play a critical role in reducing the impacts of heatwaves and extreme weather on residents and local businesses.”
For Adelaide residents wanting to learn more about how to combat extreme heat days, the council is helping residents understand the risks they face, and what can be done to combat the likelihood of extended heatwaves driven by climate change.
A recent event, Feeling Hot Hot Hot at the Adelaide Town Hall on 6 February, saw around 850 residents meet to hear a panel of experts work through a hypothetical extended heatwave and its impacts.
Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said that it’s crucial for the city to help residents understand the climate risks facing Adelaide, including the likelihood of extreme summer temperatures.
“Our hot weather has already reached the levels predicted for 2030 and we are living through this right now – we have just endured two heatwaves with temperatures reaching 46.6 degrees in metropolitan Adelaide, a record for the city,” she said.
“Heatwaves kill more people than any other natural disaster in Australia. We are moving into new territory with climate change – heatwaves are more intense, longer, and there are more hot areas spread out across city and metro areas.
“The dangers of heatwaves are real and present, and we’re working to better prepare for them and discuss how we can reduce risks, as well as actions we can all take to reduce our carbon emissions and live more sustainably.”