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Climate change hits low-income earners harder – and poor housing in hotter cities is a disastrous combination

Climate change hits low-income earners harder – and poor housing in hotter cities is a disastrous combination

Fan beside bed

The cost of living is a key focus of this election campaign. However, politicians have been inconsolable silent about the disproportionate effects of climate change for Australians with low incomes. This is especially true for those with low incomes. Western Sydney, your home 2.5 million people.

Over the last half century, the balance of Sydney’s Social housing has been pushed to the west, where it can be up to 10℃ hotter than the breeze-cooled coast. Rapid housing development is reducing existing tree canopy every day. Further intensifying heat.

This situation will continue to cause disadvantage for generations and decades. Even if we limit global warming to 1.5℃ this century, Western Sydney will still experience fewer than 17 days of 35℃ per year by 2090.

Australia needs a more holistic, forward-thinking approach to the design of hot cities, one that’s up to the task of changing with the climate.

Living with urban heat now

Low-income communities are more likely than others to live in poorly constructed rental housing that is heat-affected and less able to afford air conditioning. What’s more, those Living in community housingIt may be difficult to install air conditioners.

Our researchResidents spent a lot of energy in summer to keep their homes cool, according to data from 2016.

Continue reading:
We still live here: tenants of public housing fight for their place in this city

After interviewing vulnerable groups of people in Western Sydney – such as elderly citizens, disability carers and young mothers in social housing – we found people turn to lessons from their parents to find relief from heat.

This can be done by soaking sheets in warm water, using fans to blow air over them, creating cool pockets in the house. Then, confine yourself to cooler rooms and cover windows facing west with blankets or aluminum foil.

Fan beside bed

People without air conditioner can keep cool by turning on fans in their bedrooms.

This summer’s La Niña weather pattern may have spared Western Sydney from scorching daytime highs, but residents had to contend with hotter and more humid NIGHTS. Poorly designed houses can’t shed heat due to cloud cover and wet conditions. This can lead to sleeplessness.

Many people in Western Sydney work from home. Community organization Better RentingA report was recently published that examined the effects of poor housing on worker productivity during the pandemic. It found those working from home without the means or capacity to improve their environments said they were stressed, couldn’t focus, and needed to finish work early during summer.

Continue reading:
Western Sydney will swelter through 46 days per year over 35°C by 2090, unless emissions drop significantly

Air-conditioning can be a relief for some residents, including those with disabilities who rely on cooling homes and cars to survive. However, air-conditioning can also be used to displace indoor heat, creating a hostile outdoor environment.

Air-conditioning is a temporary solution that does not address long-term disadvantages.

‘Solutions’ don’t go far enough

Social disadvantage underscores the limitations of well-meaning technical solutions, such as the New South Wales government’s program to Plant five million trees by 2030, or City of Sydney’s ProjectYou can also choose to use renewable-powered air conditioning.

These solutions don’t go anywhere near far enough to address the fundamental short-sightedness in how we design and plan our cities.

For example, young trees require far more care to reach maturity in extreme weather than older trees which have been cut to make room for development. Research shows that solar-powered air conditioning cannot reverse the effects of urban heat. Sedentary, passive, lonely, and insecureBecause it keeps us inside and isolates us from one another.

For homes that want to keep cool, it is a good idea to install light-coloured roof tiles.

Indeed, Western Sydney’s current trajectory of urban growth will see urban heat and its impacts worsen, particularly as the state government resists mandating lighter-coloured roof tiles as a Perceived impediment to the development. Roof tiles with lighter colours reflect heat better than absorb it, making them a good choice for cooling homes.

This will lead future generations of residents in Western Sydney to a city they may one day call home. In the end, it is uninhabitableYou can do this for many months. These are the predictions
Although they may seem terrible, we cannot ignore them.

One stark prospect is that even newer and more expensive homes being built in Western Sydney’s growth areas may become stranded assets in a future, when 50℃ summer daysRegular flooding is a common occurrence.

What can we do?

Researchers and policy makers are turning their attention to making Australian cities more “climate-ready”.

See Also
Looking down on a worker at a computer in a large warehouse

Although the recent flooding was devastating for communities, it has not been a disaster for individuals. Floods, FiresThese and other disasters offer valuable lessons about design failures, community-led solutions that have kept people safe, and the lessons they have taught us.

Floodwaters flooded the suburbs of Sydney, south and southwestern in March.
AAP Image/Dean Lewins

We’ve learnt “climate-readiness” cannot be done in a piecemeal way or achieved in the background of everyday life, like set-and-forget technologies. Instead, it’s about being aware of how the natural and built environment interact. Interact, and the social habits that make it possible to have a more peaceful future.

This could include enrolling communities to care for young trees around their homes and maintaining breezeways or shade through their neighbourhoods. It might also include outdoor cooking in summer to reduce heat inside.

This is encompassed in a process called “transition design”, which takes holistic, long-term view of urban planning to forge a sustainable future. This means starting with what residents want and know works – whether its creating cool pockets in the home or reaching out to neighbours when heat is on its way.

Read more:
How can new design patterns help cities and their residents adapt to climate change?

These social solutions must be connected by planners, policymakers, and designers to make them more accessible, manageable.

As we deal with the future, parts of everyday life may look very different. Energy managementadapting our homes to changing climates. But we must also recognise and hold on to what’s important, including reclaiming what we’ve lost to rampant development.

Long-term residentsWestern Sydney may be remembered as a more liveable place, with shaded pedestrian routes between homes, shops, seating, and facilities in parks, and easier access to public transport.

These basic amenities are a commonwealth, which allows us to remain at home even in an increasingly hostile world.

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