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Red Cross urges people to act now to adapt to climate change

With natural disasters striking more frequently and with greater severity a new Climate Ready Communities Guide has been launched letting people know how they can take action to avoid being a casualty of climate change.

Friday April 21, 2017

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Natural disasters are becoming more severe and more frequent. Photo: Amelia Wong, Red Cross
Natural disasters are becoming more severe and more frequent. Photo: Amelia Wong, Red Cross
Climate change is happening and it's here to stay

The guide, produced by Red Cross with funding from the South Australian Government, aims to help communities prepare for a changing climate with more frequent and extreme weather events.

Red Cross Acting Director South Australia Jai O'Toole said climate change is happening and it's here to stay.

"Right now we're seeing along the eastern seaboard just how widespread Cyclone Debbie's devastation was. The poor and most vulnerable are often the hardest hit so it's essential that people are equipped to adapt and thrive in the changing conditions," he said. "The changes we are seeing impact just about every aspect of society. Many people are already doing things to adapt to a changing climate - even if they don't label it as such. It's important we build upon these actions and support all communities to become climate ready."

SA Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter said resilience is the responsibility of the whole community.

"This helps everyone understand how climate change will affect them and what we can all do to help our communities adapt," he said. "South Australia has been an early leader in climate adaptation, not only in preparing our communities but through encouraging them to take advantage of the significant opportunities that taking action on climate change brings."

This summer's heatwaves and record temperatures in South Australia highlight the risk communities face. Extreme temperatures contribute to the deaths of more than 1,000 people aged over 65 each year in Australia, according to the Climate Institute. That number is due to increase substantially in line with Australia's increasing temperatures and more frequent and intense heatwaves. Macquarie University risk scientist Lucinda Coates estimates that, "since 1900, extreme heat events have been responsible for more deaths in Australia than the combined total of deaths from all other natural hazards, barring disease epidemics."

The Red Cross Climate Ready Communities Guide helps people take control over what can seem to be an issue that is beyond their control. It's broken into four parts:

• Understanding what climate change means in your local community
• Working out who in your community to connect with
• Shaping a conversation about adapting to a changing climate
• Taking the conversation into action.

Mr O'Toole said every day Red Cross sees the impacts of climate change on those least able to cope.

"Older people all alone. People who are homeless or without adequate housing or living in hot boxes without any cooling. People with a disability, mental health, alcohol or drug issues. These are the people who most feel the brunt of these weather extremes," he said. "Adapting everything we do to a new and changing climate is a shared responsibility. No one person, group, business or government can do it alone."

The guide was funded from a grant provided by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, and is available on the Red Cross website

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