Tuesday, 10 August 2021 13:24

IPCC Report shows planning must be ‘safe as houses’

Aerial view of new development with cool roofs Aerial view of new development with cool roofs


Media release, 10 August 2021


The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has called on the NSW Government to ensure our planning system is safeguarding Western Sydney following the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report.

WSROC President, Clr Barry Calvert, said “Western Sydney is already reaching life-threatening temperatures of over 50 degrees in summer[1]. The IPCC’s predictions for more extreme weather shows an urgent need to update our planning systems to support community safety today and in the future.”

“WSROC commends the NSW Government’s commitment to net-zero emissions, including its strong focus on transitioning to electric vehicles and renewable energy. However, the IPCC report shows that adaptation will also be necessary to ensure our communities are safe, and our infrastructure resilient to the changes that are coming.   

“The NSW planning system is a critical piece of the adaptation puzzle. If we don’t look at how we are constructing new buildings, the result will be catastrophic economic[2], health and environmental impacts for Western Sydney,” said Clr Calvert.

“WSROC has been working on this issue with leading scientists, councils, state agencies, and private sector stakeholders for several years. We know what must be done to future-proof our city, it's time to get on and do it,” he said.

“First, we should be using future climate projections to assess new buildings. The homes we build today will be in-place for decades to come. These homes must be designed to protect people in 2030, 2040 and 2050. Basing our building codes and energy assessments on past climate data means that we risk these buildings being uninhabitable in the near future[3].

“While retrofitting will also be needed in many areas of our city, large greenfield estates on the city’s fringe offer an unprecedented opportunity to build best-practice from scratch,” said Clr Calvert.

“Second, we must do more to tackle the urban heat island effect. While the NSW Government has done great work in driving tree planting across our city. Trees alone will be woefully inadequate to address the challenge ahead of us[4].

“WSROC has worked with leading scientists to develop planning clauses and urban design tools that outline best practice in reducing heat. Measures include orientation, cool materials, renewable energy and water sensitive urban design. We know what to do, we must start putting these rules in place,” he said.

“Third, we must be better prepared for emergencies. Homes, public buildings, and infrastructure must be designed to support life safety during the longer, hotter heatwaves (as well as floods, fires and storms) that are coming. This includes ensuring there are places where people can seek relief during emergencies, and that these places have good transport connections, and reliable back-up power,” said Clr Calvert.

“For those who argue that addressing heat is too expensive, I ask what is the cost of failing to do so? Affordable housing is not affordable if low up-front costs, are offset by high running costs for individuals, and escalating costs to our health system, economy, and quality of life,” he said.

“The NSW Government’s upcoming planning policy, the Place and Design SEPP, is perfectly timed to ensure minimum standards are improved to ensure a safer, more equitable future for Western Sydney.

“Our job in government is to protect community safety. We need our planning system to be ‘safe as houses’ for summer 2021 as well as and summer 2050,” said Clr Calvert.




Media contact: Kate O'Connell or Kelly Gee, 02 9671 4333 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  



[1] Pfaustch & Rouillard (2019 – 2021) Benchmarking Heat studies are available for the Cumberland, Campbelltown, Parramatta and Penrith LGAs.  

[2] NSW Treasury. (2021). An indicative assessment of four key areas of climate risk for the 2021 NSW Intergenerational Report.  

[3] Waverly City Council (2021). Future Proofing Residential Development to Climate Change  

[4] Esperon‐Rodriguez et.al. 2019 Plants, People, Planet

Last modified on Wednesday, 29 September 2021 14:42

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