Perth’s climate refugees headed south?

Hotter summers and less rainfall could lead to Perth residents fleeing for cooler parts of the state and country in the future.

On Monday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new study outlining how global temperatures will likely increase one and a half degrees by the early 2030s.

With Perth following this trend, Associate Professor of Geography at Curtin University Tod Jones says intrastate migration may increase in the future, as residents flee to cooler parts of the country.

“Because of our location, the southern regions are cooler than the northern regions, you could see people migrating south to get to those cooler places.

“If we start getting regular 30 degree days, regular 32 degree days, regular 33 degree days, people might decide this [Perth] isn’t the place for them.”

Moving from Perth due to climate change may be a reality for families in the future. Photo: Xander Sapsworth-Collis.

However Dr Jones explained there is no data to currently suggest climate is a large factor in why people decide to move cities.

Professor of Human Geography at the University of Tasmania Jason Byrne says while no data indicates climate change is a large factor why people move, there is mounting anecdotal evidence to suggest it will be in the future.

One of the factors influencing Mr Byrne’s decision to move to Tasmania was climate and he says this will likely become a consideration for Western Australians.

“The liveability of Perth will certainly decline in the future with a drying climate.

“I’d say it’s [moving] an emerging phenomenon.”

Dr Byrne says this issue would likely impact elderly people more.

“What we know is older people are more affected by hotter weather, this would likely be a greater consideration for them.”

Dr Byrne highlighted the south west coast of WA, particularly around Albany and Denmark, as an area people would likely move to in the future to escape worsening climate conditions.

Corellas do not migrate with changes in temperature. Photo: Xander Sapsworth-Collis.

Green’s Senator Brad Pettitt agrees with this assessment, and believes people will look to move to the south-west to escape the worst effects of climate change.

“The climate change predictions for Perth are not pretty, with increasing numbers of very hot days and declining rainfall.

“This has seen people actively look to move further south to places like Denmark and Albany where temperatures are forecast to be milder.”

Long-term Perth resident Edward Marynowiz has made plans to move to Albany in the near future to escape the worsening climate in Perth.

“Albany’s got a much cooler climate, more rainfall.

“We chose a property that was north facing, it’s got good sunlight, a little elevated, just those little elements that make it climate proof.

“I’m not really comfortable with the term climate emigrant, but when we move it will be because of climate change.”

Mr Marynowiz says it’s the increased temperature and dryness of Perth which makes Albany a more desirable place to live.

Dr Jones believes this will be the main push factor causing people to move to Western Australia’s cooler south coast in the future.

Dr Todd Jones believes increased temperature will be the key reason Perth residents will move to the south-west.