Environment Victoria today welcomed the Auditor General’s call for a statewide heatwave plan, but warned that effective responses needed to go beyond emergency management.
“The Auditor-General found that agencies ‘are not well prepared to respond to heatwaves’ and ‘do not have evidence-based plans’. To that list we could add ‘has failed to protect vulnerable Victorians living in low quality housing from the impacts of extreme weather’ and ‘systematically dismantled Victoria’s policy response to climate change’,” said Alex White, campaigns director for Environment Victoria.
“On average, Melbourne experiences about 9 days per year over 35 degrees, but due to the effects of climate change, that number is set to triple over the next few decades to 2070,” said Mr White.
And yet since being elected, the state government has systematically dismantled Victoria’s policy response to climate change – cutting Victoria’s emissions reduction target, introducing draconian anti-wind farm laws, and abolishing the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target.
“What’s more, the Victorian government has had four years to deliver on its 2010 election promise to lift the average standard of Victorian homes to 5 stars,” said Mr White.
Houses built before 2005 average less than 2 stars, meaning they are hot in summer and cold in winter and cost a fortune to keep comfortable.
“For low income Victorians who are most likely to live in poor quality housing, that can pose a serious risk to health – particularly in extreme weather events like a heatwave,” said Mr White.
“The government’s failure to deliver on its promise to upgrade these homes meant that thousands of Victorians suffered more in this year’s heatwaves than would have been the case with even modest progress towards the 5 star goal.
“Central to any statewide heatwave plan as recommended by the Auditor-General, should be a plan to make our homes safer and better able to withstand extreme weather events.”
Implementing a comprehensive retrofit program targeting Victoria’s lowest income households would create an estimated 6,700 jobs and save the government $2.5 billion over 20 years in energy concession payments.
“This Auditor General’s warning should be a wake-up call for the Victorian government to take heat waves seriously as a real and present threat to human health and to our economy, and to act accordingly,” said Mr. White.
For more information contact Holly Crocket on 0413 343 329.