Extreme heat associated with the Urban Heat Island (UHI) and future climate change will have a disproportional geographic and demographic impact across a city. The role of a city planner is to shape the future direction of cities within a sustainability lens rather than a singular focus on meeting housing demands. Current and future impacts of the UHI effect present a challenge for cities. Planners must find strategies to accommodate ever-increasing populations, manage urban densities and shape infrastructure, all of which are known to contribute to the UHI effect. Quantifying the impacts of the UHI on a city represents an example of science informing policy, in this case, urban climatology integrating into land-use planning decision-making. The governance of good policy must support robust and transparent data collection and evaluation frameworks, that are highly variable.
This research investigates Australian cities' strategic plans for heat reduction to maintain their liveability towards heat stress from the UHI effect. A UHI recognition score, which could be applied to other global city plans, was developed for comparative analysis of awareness, reduction measures, and actions implementation and monitoring. We reveal that most cities acknowledge the UHI and promote urban greening to reduce this effect. However, most cities had no data, spatial description of the UHI or provided a target for reduction through investigated measures. This was despite the presence of official strategic and technical documents for most cities on UHI, urban greening and water sensitive design.