Major parties water down Greens call for major new plan to tackle hot homes in climate crisis

The major parties have teamed up to water down a motion before the Assembly today that would help ensure that new homes are well designed and built for warming summer temperatures.

 “When the city swelters, we shouldn’t have Canberrans—including vulnerable older people, public housing tenants, and children—living in blisteringly hot homes that are like saunas in summer,” Greens Planning spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said today.

“Yet we keep building apartments and townhouses that aren’t being designed or built for a warming climate.“We are disappointed that the major parties today have ruled out ‘future proofing’ the city’s apartments for the realities of climate change.

“This situation is only going to get worse. In 2050, Canberrans can expect to experience more than 100 days a year that are over 30 degrees—far and beyond what we’re currently used to, or building for.

“Buildings built now will still be standing in 2050, yet the major parties can’t seem to get it together to prevent Canberra homes from becoming practically unliveable. At a time when the climate is already in crisis, this is no time for delay.

“This was a real opportunity to show leadership, and both the major parties have bungled it.

“The Greens have fought hard for action on this issue for decades, and will continue to advocate for this issue to ensure homes in our city remains liveable in the climate crisis. 

“While the current energy efficiency rating (EER) system has improved Canberra’s dwellings in the winter, it is clearly inadequate for the increasing summer period.”

Neither of the major parties would commit to real action, only agreeing to “investigate possible changes” in relation to:

  • Changing planning rules for apartments to bring them up to at least the standard of NSW apartments;
  • Improving monitoring of building quality.

The major parties also teamed up to vote against:

  • Better designs for new public housing, which is often home to vulnerable older Canberrans at high risk from heat.

The deadlines for action have also been removed, so the remaining work may never be delivered. 

The Greens today called on the Government to release a draft Territory Plan Variation to implement these changes for community consultation by the end of March 2020.

The Action Plan was to be delivered to the Assembly by the last sitting day in October.

 In January Canberra experienced its longest run of days above 40 degrees, while experts say the city needs to quickly adapt to more extreme heat driven by climate change.