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Capital cities to swelter through twice as many days above 35°C unless stronger climate action is taken

Climate Council 4 mins read

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
28 FEBRUARY 2024

 

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL CITIES are set to swelter through twice as many days above 35°C by the end of the century, a detailed analysis from the Climate Council has found.

 

But there’s hope: reducing climate pollution globally now could slash the number of scorching days by an average of 20 percent across Australian communities.

 

Thousands of data points from CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology's Climate Change in Australia project were analysed by the geospatial team Spatial Vision, who worked alongside the Climate Council to develop a new interactive heat map tool.

The map projects the average number of hot and very hot days, as well as very hot nights, for each Australian suburb by 2050 and 2090 under three scenarios:

  1. No action, where global emissions rise throughout the 21st century
  2. Existing action, what we’d see if all countries meet their current commitments for emission reductions
  3. Necessary action, a much stronger pathway that requires almost all countries, including Australia, to substantially strengthen their existing climate commitments and actions.

 

Any Australian can input their suburb or postcode to the heat map, to see how stronger action on climate pollution can affect the heat in their area.

 

Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council CEO said: “Climate pollution is rapidly turning up the heat in Australia. Whether we live in cities or regional towns, all Australians are sweltering through even hotter days and killer heatwaves.

 

“Australia must keep building out renewable energy to completely phase out pollution from coal, oil and gas and protect our families from unlivable temperatures. If we don't take further steps now, some neighbourhoods and communities will become so hot people will struggle to live there. It’s not something that’s far off, it’s here now and it will define the coming decades.

 

“This map makes it clear that Australia's pathway to cut climate pollution this decade will play a critical role in determining the future health and prosperity of entire communities across our country.” 

 

Head of Research at the Climate Council Dr Simon Bradshaw said: "This tool empowers Australians to see the real impacts of climate pollution in their own neighbourhoods.

 

“Choices being made this decade will dramatically affect the kind of community our children and grandchildren inherit. Cutting climate pollution further will limit the number of extremely hot days and the number of very warm nights we’re forced to endure, and ensure a better future for all Australians.”

 

Doctors for the Environment Australia executive director Dr Kate Wylie said: “Extreme heat is lethal. Dangerously hot temperatures put our health and wellbeing at serious risk, and threaten our families, community and animals.

 

“As well as the risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in extreme conditions, we know that heat exposure increases the risks of many serious illnesses, such as heart and respiratory diseases, mental health presentations and premature births.

 

“Older adults, infants and young children, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions and those living in vulnerable communities have a heightened risk of illness during heatwaves. But by embracing renewable energy and cutting climate pollution, we can shield our communities from the worst consequences of extreme heat and safeguard our future health.”

 

Key findings and local impact

 

Western Sydney / New South Wales

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Western Sydney will swelter through twice as many days above 35°C by 2050 and three weeks above 35°C every summer.
  • The urban heat island effect notably worsens living temperatures in Western Sydney, with materials like asphalt and concrete amplifying heat. This can elevate temperatures by as much as 10 degrees during extreme heat, exacerbating climate change and urban development challenges.

Darwin / Northern Territory

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Darwin could experience four times as many days over 35°C each year by mid-century, with residents facing almost three months of extra days above 35°C by 2050.
  • If no action was taken to reduce climate pollution, by 2090, Darwin could experience a whopping 283 days over 35°C each year - an increase of 243 days - and a similar number of nights above 25°C. In other words, by the time a child born today is entering retirement, the city could be facing temperatures over 35°C for more than nine months of the year.
  • Housing in remote communities in the Northern Territory is often old and badly constructed, with little insulation. Climate change is turning these houses into ‘dangerous hot boxes’ that threaten the health of residents, especially older people and those with existing health conditions.

Perth / Western Australia

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Perth could swelter through twice as many days above 35°C by 2050.
  • This summer, people in Perth have had a taste of the hotter future to come, with unprecedented late-summer heatwaves. In February, Perth set a new record for the number of days over 40°C in a single month, with 7 consecutive days of sweltering heat.

Melbourne / Victoria

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Melbourne residents face double the number of days above 35°C by 2050.
  • Extreme heat poses a growing threat to sporting competitions such as the Australian Open, challenging player safety. Losing tournaments like the Australian Open will negatively impact Victoria's economy and Australia's international reputation as a major event destination.

Canberra / ACT

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Canberra residents face twice as many days above 35°C by 2050.

Brisbane / Queensland

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Brisbane faces three times as many days above 35°C by 2050 and four times as many by 2090.
  • Extreme heat is critically endangering flying fox populations, causing mass fatalities and pushing the species towards extinction.

Adelaide / South Australia

  • Based on existing action to reduce climate pollution, Adelaide faces an extra week of days above 35°C by mid-century.
  • South Australia's wine regions, including the Barossa Valley, face threats from climate change with rising temperatures hastening grape ripening, impacting quality. Adapting through new grape varieties or relocating vineyards remains costly and complex.

Hobart / Tasmania

  • Based upon existing action to reduce climate pollution, by mid-century the extreme temperatures Hobart experienced over the 2019-20 summer could become the norm.
  • Rising sea surface temperatures off Tasmania’s coast, which are rising nearly four times faster than the global average, is endangering Tasmania's marine life and fisheries. The longest marine heatwave in 2016 devastated commercial species.

 

SEE THE CLIMATE COUNCIL’S CLIMATE HEAT MAP HERE

Code to embed the Heat Map tool within stories here:
<iframe src="https://www.heatmap.climatecouncil.au/" frameborder="0" width="100%" style="height: 750px;" allowfullscreen allow="geolocation"></iframe>

 


About us:

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.

 

For further information, go to: climatecouncil.org.au

Or follow us on social media: facebook.com/climatecouncil and twitter.com/climatecouncil


Contact details:

For additional findings from the Heat Map and to organise interviews please contact George Hyde on 0431 330 919 or george.hyde@climatecouncil.org.au or Emily Watkins on 0420 622 408 or emily.watkins@climatemediacentre.org.au.

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