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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1192 ..

The large majority of ACT region residents feel that climate change is a genuine problem for the future. In fact, that figure was 90 per cent. Eighty-seven per cent believe that it is important to act now to reduce the effects of climate change. However, despite being willing to act, confidence in being able to adapt easily is low. Less than one-third felt confident that they could readily adapt to any climate change occurring in their lifetime.

This low confidence is important for us to understand and to respond to because it can limit successful adaptation. People need to be provided with support to adapt successfully. That will be a combination of strategies that will help people prepare for these effects of climate change. Those who are younger, were born overseas in non-English speaking countries, and those who are renting, were least likely to report being well prepared.

Younger people also emerged as often highly vulnerable to heatwaves through a mixture of having specific health issues known to worsen in hot weather, greater exposure to negative social behaviours in heatwaves, living in residences that performed poorly in heatwaves, and being more likely to work in jobs that have exposure to heat. This highlights a need to consider strategies for supporting younger people in heatwaves as well as the traditional approach, which has been particularly focused on the elderly.

Certainly, the research has identified that renters are one of the most vulnerable groups, living in residences that were often performing poorly in heatwaves and also often having low financial resilience to heatwaves. Poor performance of residential infrastructure was perhaps identified as the greatest challenge in this research.

I have talked about some of the steps that the ACT government is already taking in the mitigation space. We will, of course, need to continue to think about adaptation as well. As Minister Steel touched on, that focus is coming through the development of a living infrastructure plan.

Living infrastructure is represented by vegetation, water and soils. Certainly Canberra, as the bush capital, is renowned for its natural assets and we as a community benefit extensively from our urban forest and waterways. Continuing to integrate trees, green open spaces and constructed waterways into our built environment footprint is a cost-effective and efficient way of reducing and preventing the urban heat island effect, providing the community with access to nature and protecting the healthy function of our natural environment.

We will also need to think about new technologies. For example, increased permeability in streets and open spaces is important for both increasing tree canopy as well as promoting the absorption of water into the soil. We have much work left to do. We cannot put our head in the sand when it comes to these issues. They are ones that our generation will need to face and certainly future generations. I look forward to continuing to work on these matters of preparing the ACT for the future.

Discussion concluded.

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