Reducing the Impact of Heatwaves

Penrith hit an all-time high of 48.9 degrees in early January – for a day it was the hottest place on the planet. The climate-changed projections for Sydney are clear: average temperatures will continue to increase, with more hot days and more frequent and lengthier heatwaves. The impacts of heatwaves are one of the most inequitably distributed impacts of climate change. Those that can afford simply turn on air conditioning, while the poor, homeless, elderly, at risk, and those that live alone tend to be the most impacted. Global research shows that more heat is coming, and it will make everyday life in Sydney, and the western suburbs in particular, more uncomfortable and dangerous for those most vulnerable.

This panel focuses on key, implementable responses for lessening the impacts of heatwaves – low-cost personal strategies to keep cool, housing design to keep the heat out, and neighbourhood and local council strategies to counter the heating of suburbs. In discussion are straightforward policy suggestions to keep the most vulnerable among us safe as climate change heats our cities.


00:00     Introductions and Welcome to Country
05:00     The Science Behind Heatwaves and its Health Impacts – Ollie Jay
16:30     Re-Inventing the Social – Tess Lea
27:35     Penrith Communities Coping with Heat – David Schlosberg
40:00     Homelessness in a Heatwave – Stephanie Macfarlane
57:30     What is a Policy Priority?
01:01:08 Heat Stress in the Workplace
01:04:20 Control and Autonomy of Environments
01:11:05 Health-based Equity Programs
01:12:35 Can Politics be Influenced to Convert to Cooling Suburbs?
01:17:05 Communicating the Threat of Human and Planetary Heat Stress


Associate Professor Ollie Jay, University of Sydney
Associate Professor Tess Lea, University of Sydney
Stephanie Macfarlane, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
Professor David Schlosberg, Sydney Environment Institute

This event was held at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 11 March, 2020.

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