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Out in the heat: why poorer suburbs are more at risk in warming cities

Jason Byrne and colleagues write in The Conversation (14.10.16) about their recent research which found that the concentration of poorer people in hotter places is a serious problem for Australian cities’ capacity to cope with climate change.

‘Australian cities are getting hotter. The many reasons for this include urban densification policies, climate change and social trends such as bigger houses and apartment living, which leave less space for gardens and trees. But some areas and some residents of cities are more exposed to heat than others.

‘The concentration of poorer people in hotter places is known as “thermal inequity”. Our recently published research has found this is a real concern on the Gold Coast, one of Australia’s fastest-growing urban regions.

‘Urban heat is known to increase rates of injury, death and disease. This is why the federal government recently established an urban greening agenda.

‘The central city tends to be hotter than surrounding suburbs and rural areas – the urban heat island effect. Perhaps because of this, much of the research focus has been on the urban core. But what about heat effects in the suburbs?’

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