“Run air-conditioning all day”: Adaptation pathways to increasing heat in the Northern Territory of Australia

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Abstract

Average global temperatures and frequencies of heat waves are increasing with detrimental effects on health and wellbeing. This study presents a case study from two cities in the Northern Territory with the aim of exploring if and how people make deliberate adaptations to cope with increasing heat. Results show that 37% of all respondents made adjustments, with the most common being increased use of air-conditioning (65% of those responding to heat), followed by staying inside more often (22%) and passive cooling through modifications of house and garden (17%). Young people increasingly refrain from outside activities as temperatures increase. We also found that adaptive capacity was a function of education, long-term residency, home ownership and people's self-rated wellbeing. Homeowners were more likely to adjust their living environment to the heat and renters less so. Being a property owner was commonly associated with the installation of solar panels to pay for high energy bills needed to run air-conditioning. Those who had solar panels at home were about ten times more likely to use air-conditioning more frequently in response to increasing heat. Our results confirm a growing dependence on artificially controlled environments to cope with heat in cities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103194
Number of pages11
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Volume74
Early online date21 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

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