This Brief addresses the challenges rural communities face in adapting to a variable and changing climate. It was developed through a consultation workshop in Dubbo together with extensive exchange with relevant stakeholders and experts.
Climate change is leading to an increased frequency and severity of heat waves. Spells of several consecutive days of unusually high temperatures have led to increased mortality rates for the more vulnerable in the community. The problem is compounded by the escalating energy costs and increasing peak electrical demand as people become more reliant on air conditioning. Domestic air conditioning is the primary determinant of peak power demand which has been a major driver of higher electricity costs.
Extreme heat events pose a risk to the health of all individuals, especially the elderly and the chronically ill, and are associated with an increased demand for healthcare services.
In order to address this problem, policy makers need information about temperatures above which mortality and morbidity of the exposed population is likely to increase, where the vulnerable groups in the community are located, and how the risks from extreme heat events are likely to change in the future.