Responding to climate change

Learn how Adelaide is becoming climate ready.

Changes to the global climate (climate change) are clear. Documented increases in the average air and ocean temperature (by over 1 °C), widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising average sea level are just some examples.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s most recent Special Report details the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

What does this mean for Adelaide?

In Adelaide the impacts of a changing climate are already being felt. The following are the projected local trends, and some snapshots of what we are already experiencing as documented by the Bureau of Meteorology’s Annual Climate Statement 2018.

  • In January 2019, Australia experienced its hottest month on record with 24 January setting a new record high of 46.6°C in the Adelaide CBD.
  • There were three separate heatwaves in 2018, each with five or more days over 35°C.
  • 2018 was the third-warmest year on record for Australia with the mean temperature +1.14°C above the 1961–1990 average
  • 2018 was the sixth-warmest year on record for Adelaide.

  • The Adelaide CBD did not record rain for 47 days in summer 2018/19, having our driest start to the year since 1957
  • Adelaide CBD rainfall for February 2019 was 32% of the long-term average
  • A higher proportion of total annual rainfall in recent decades has come from heavy rain days

How is it affecting our way of life?

Potential impacts of climate change to residents, visitors and businesses within Adelaide and North Adelaide could include:

  • negative health impacts due to heat waves, particularly to vulnerable community members who succumb to heat stress easily
  • impacts of heat waves on the economy and businesses, particularly sectors such as retail and hospitality
  • reduced water availability and increasing heat resulting in increased stress and resources required for maintaining open space, public realm and vegetation.

What is Council doing?

The City of Adelaide takes climate change seriously.

We are responding in two ways through both substantial reductions in greenhouse gases (mitigation) and helping to prepare for and respond to the changing climate (adaptation).

For over 20 years, Council has worked to reduce our own emissions and have identified 10 key projects to make significant reductions in our own operations.

It is our goal to make Adelaide one of the world’s first carbon neutral cities through the Carbon Neutral Adelaide initiative, to accelerate emission reduction in the community.

By thinking and planning now the City and the community will be in a better position to manage the challenges of climate change and take advantage of any opportunities.

Below are three ways that the City of Adelaide is helping to make Adelaide climate ready.

The urban heat island effect is an extensively documented climate phenomenon and is prevalent in many Australian cities. The concrete buildings and asphalt roads create heat islands that can be significantly hotter than temperatures in the surrounding suburban and rural areas. Because the number of extreme heat days is predicted to increase significantly over the next few decades, Council is working to understand and reduce heat islands.

heat Mapping tool is publicly available which assesses how all suburbs are affected on hot days and nights. The City of Adelaide is using this data to inform its planning and design, for example in tree planting and choice of materials in public spaces like playgrounds, parks and pavements. Residents or businesses can consult the tool to understand how heat exposed their property is.

In February 2019, Council brought together senior representatives from key South Australian and Federal government agencies in an event called Feeling Hot Hot Hot! The event was open to the public, and aimed to better prepare our community for the challenges posed by extreme weather and heat waves in Adelaide. Panellists provided advice on practical actions to manage risks and be climate ready. As a result, 91 per cent of respondents felt the event had increased their understanding of heatwaves.

Watch a summary of the Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot event.

The City of Adelaide is part of Resilient East, a partnership between the eight eastern metropolitan Councils which aims to improve the resilience of our communities, assets and infrastructure, local economies and natural environment so they can cope with the inevitable impacts and challenges of climate change.

The Regional East Regional Climate Change Adaptation Plan came into operation in 2016. The Plan was developed with peak bodies, business and residents’ groups across the region. The Project is supported through a partnership Climate Change Sector Agreement with the South Australian Government that was signed on 23 March 2017.

What can you do?

There are many things you can do to become climate ready and be prepared for heatwaves.

Below are some links to information to help you: