Heatwaves are the biggest climate-related killer - more deadly than storms, fires and floods combined.
The only existing dedicated funding for heatwave mitigation projects at the Federal level is through the Disaster Ready Fund (DRF). Parliamentary Library analysis has revealed that last round the DRF funded just 2 heatwave mitigation projects for a measly combined total of $3.2M in funding. This contrasts to the $11.1B spent in fossil fuel subsidies last year, a 3,500x difference.
According to government analysis, heatwave related deaths are expected to climb to over 1000 annually in each of the following major cities by 2050: Perth (1419), Melbourne (1149), Sydney (1015) and Brisbane (1072). This is around double current figures for Melbourne and a 500% increase for Brisbane.
The Greens are calling on the government to coordinate a National Heatwave Plan, including the following elements:
Updating the National Construction Code to take into account expected climate change impacts and ensure all new construction is heatwave resistant, including mandating light-coloured roofs, 8 star energy efficiency, high-performance insulating windows, and passive heating and cooling systems.
Facilitate a mass roll-out of urban greening to reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect, including planting millions of shade trees across our cities to achieve a minimum urban green cover target in every suburb of 30%, and expanding shaded public green space within walking distance of residents.
Fund a proactive outreach program to mobilise an army of paid staff and volunteers to go door to door in high-risk areas during a heatwave to offer support and advice, including identifying vulnerable populations (people experiencing homelessness, pregnant people, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses) and developing targeted support for them.
An easy to access one-off payment for people to help ease the increase in energy costs for cooling their homes.
Lines attributale for Elizabeth Watson-Brown, Greens spokesperson for Transport, Infrastructure and Sustainable Cities:
‘While Labor and LNP are giving billions in subsidies to coal and gas corporations each year, they have spent peanuts to help everyday people who are sweltering in their homes.
‘Over the next few decades, tens of thousands of Australians will die from heat-related illness if the government doesn’t take action to ensure our homes are heatwave resilient, and our cities and suburbs have enough tree coverage to prevent urban heat islands
‘You shouldn’t need to fret over your energy bill when there’s a 37 degree day like today, and turning on the aircon could well be what protects you from serious heatstroke.
‘At their Wednesday caucus meeting, Labor should immediately resolve to deliver a heatwave plan that includes planting millions of shade trees, making all of our buildings heat-resistant and liveable, coordinating an outreach army to check in on vulnerable people during heatwaves, and a one-off payment for people to help ease the increase in energy costs for cooling their homes.’