This report presents evidence that strong action to increase urban vegetation will become imperative in our three largest cities to reduce serious heatwave impacts by 2060–2080, even with strong climate action. Without strong climate action — and continuing business-as-usual — Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney will regularly experience temperatures above recommended health thresholds. Green infrastructure (like planting native trees and plants) takes time to establish to its maximum effectiveness, so acting early is critical for meeting future needs.
This study also finds that local areas more vulnerable to additional city heat are typically more disadvantaged suburbs with lower levels of protective vegetation cover. Further key finding of the study include:
- The hottest summer days in Brisbane and Melbourne are expected to regularly reach over 40°C by 2060–2080, and up to 50°C in Sydney.
- The urban heat island (UHI) effect is likely to add several degrees on top of this — especially in more vulnerable places.
- Improving the amount of vegetation in cities will help address rising temperatures.
- Greener cities are also good for human health and wellbeing, reduce heat-related deaths, create jobs and help combat climate change by absorbing more carbon dioxide from the air.