Scorching heat in Sydney’s “Burning West”

Find out why Western Sydney is becoming “The Burning West”, and how there’s a direct connection between urban heat islands and climate change....
(Credit: Sam te Kiefte | Unsplash)

In Fiji, “The Burning West” is a term used by many when referring to the western side of the island and its warmer areas and, in Australia, particularly during the recent summers in Western Sydney, that title is particularly relevant.

For scorching temperatures in 2024, often surpassing 35 degrees, have at times made it feel like Sydney’s west was burning, and many have cited that the urban heat islands (UHI), which are densely built urban areas that trap heat, and the lack of natural greenery have significantly worsened matters.

Coupled with the heat temperatures rapidly escalating due to climate change, it could all be described as a dangerous, perfect storm.

In a piece republished from The Conversation, UTS researchers have shared their analysis that demonstrates that Sydney’s west typically sizzles 5 degrees hotter than the East – and one of the factors is where the former is situated.

(Credit: Mi Pham | Unsplash)

Geographical location:

The western Sydney region is far from the coast, with the distance to the nearest beaches an average of 30-60 mins by car, and Bondi Beach 32.7km from Parramatta. With limited access to the coastal breeze (which acts as a natural air conditioner, cooling the eastern suburbs), Sydney’s west gets 400mm less rain – yearly – than its eastern counterpart.

Also, due to both geographical location and many housing estates in Western Sydney being situated in urbanised heat islands, areas such as Blacktown, Mt Druitt, Penrith, and Marsden Park (which are far from the ocean) have become higher in temperature during summer than local, rural bushland in Australia.

(Credit: Tom Rumble | Unsplash)

Urban development: dense Western Sydney:

Consulting senior urban planner, Samuel Austin, has said that in six months Marsden Park – situated 50km northwest of the Sydney CBD, and 46 mins from Bondi Beach by car – will be “the hottest place on earth”, and that the reason is urban development.

Urban heat islands develop in areas where there is a lack of green spaces – such as tree canopies and waterways – and when there are places of hard and sealed surfaces, such as bricks, concrete, asphalt, dark-coloured roofs and roads; it’s a dangerous algorithm, one that raises the temperature by 10-12 degrees, yet is the incorrect code that the NSW Government presently adopts when it comes to building housing estates in Sydney’s west, such as those in Marsden Park.

In 2022, the NSW Government chose to abandon its former plan of banning dark roofs, despite statements from then-planning minister, Rob Stokes, that ending the previous method would be a positive step forward and “Have an enormous impact on the urban heat island effect” in Sydney’s west.

The sustainable planning agenda was approved by environmental groups, and would have made it mandatory for roofs of new houses to be lighter in colour, and thus lower urban heat temperatures for the people of Western Sydney.

Yet, it never came to fruition, and the government did not supply a plan B.

(Credit: Markus Spiske | Pexels)

What to do about a changing Western Sydney climate:

The Mayor of Blacktown, Stephen Bali, has said, “There is a change in the climate between eastern seaboard versus Western Sydney,” and fears temperatures will only escalate in the coming years if no government action is to be taken.

While the reprieve could come in a multitude of urban cooling fixes that, if implemented, would help those in western Sydney: such as changing dark roofing and opting for lighter colours, increasing foliage and native green space, as well as replacing pavements and roads with heat-reflective paint to minimise heat better, unless those changes are implemented soon, the effects of the climate crisis will continue to be felt and ultimately worsen, for both residents now and for generations to come.

Short of possible corporate and government sustainability accountability measures – such as Urban Greening – sustainable packaging, and green energy mandates (like installing thousands more wind turbines), the power sits with the people to act and apply pressure.

Each of us can take steps to try to combat rapid climate change, such as buying products based on their environmental impact, leading to the loss of revenue for unsustainable brands and driving the change to a fully sustainable economy.

(Credit: Tomek Baginski | Unsplash)

Thus, we need to do everything possible to try to alter the effects of climate change, and that means the NSW Government greenlighting and implementing sustainable planning agendas, such as making it mandatory to move to lighter-coloured roofing, as well as plant much more green spaces.

This could improve the hot conditions for residents in areas that are in urban heat islands today.

Authors: Raynesh Charan and Nataša Aster-Stater


Amelia Caldwell: “Nothing can compare to the joy that comes from someone buying something you have handcrafted”

Despite the challenges, the business continues to thrive and hopes to promote environmentally sustainable practices....

Amelia Caldwell, who will soon join Western as a student, started a business in 2021 based on up-cycling materials. Despite the challenges, the business continues to thrive and hopes to promote environmentally sustainable practices. Compiled by Shayma Abdellatif.   

Amelia Caldwell creates handmade jewellery from up-cycled materials. Photo supplied by Amelia Caldwell.


1.     What type of business do you own? 

“I created Dreamgazee, dedicated to up-cycling materials and creating handmade unique jewellery/accessories that can be used for self-expression of every individual. I also sell some other products when I can, including t-shirts, arm warmers, clay trays and even some of my own artworks…


“The core of my business is about repurposing and recycling – or more importantly up-cycling and reusing products, tools, equipment and materials that have been discarded or deemed ‘broken’. When creating pieces, the majority of my materials are second hand. By repurposing we can look at decreasing waste especially from fast fashion industries. I personally enjoy using a range of different materials such as pearls, sea-shells, different beads, wood, wire, decals, bleach, fishing line, thread, knickknacks and children’s toys… 


“During lockdown, I repurposed jewellery from a couple years ago that I no longer wear to create new products, I also had so much fun recording videos about my business for social media; I made an ASMR video showing myself stocking up my new storage unit and it’s beyond satisfying.”  



Handmade jewellery sold at Dreamgazee. Photo supplied by Amelia Caldwell.

2.     What motivated you to start your business?  

“At the beginning of 2021, I knew I needed to bring something new into my life after the stress and intensity of 2020. So, I decided to grab onto independence and entrepreneurship by starting my own small business…


“As a prospective WSU student, I’m looking forward to studying a Bachelor of Design and Technology and the opportunities that I will experience studying here. Over the past decade, I’ve truly been able to see how much I value design and the arts. I’ve studied Visual Arts, Woodwork, Textiles, Basic Design and Technology, Business Services, Ceramics, Photography and I also spend my own time learning about each of these topics to strengthen my skills and gain more knowledge. This has all assisted me greatly when starting my business!”

3.    How did COVID-19 and the lockdown affect your business?

“Surprisingly it benefited my business, as a creator whose sole form of connection is through social media and other digital platforms being in lockdown drew more attention to my business, especially due to the fact that everyone was online for one reason or another. One struggle I can point out is access to materials, there were times when I had run out of important jewellery making equipment and wasn’t able to go get them, therefore holding back my creation process and impacting my business.”

4.     What are the main benefits and challenges of owning a small business? Did you receive any support to establish it?

Getting my products out to an audience is pretty difficult! Social media is obviously huge now and there are tens, probably thousands, of small businesses out there all trying to do the exact same thing as each other; promote your work, attract and sell to clientele, develop customer rapport all whilst creating products, uploading/editing posts on social media, websites or web stores, handling postage, buying materials etc. It’s definitely a lot to handle but it’s all part of the business…


“Thankfully I have some help from my family but otherwise, I handle everything on my own. Some other personal struggles I’ve had are shipping costs in Australia, especially dealing with international shipping which is often over $20.00 AUD on its own!…


“But nothing can compare to the joy that comes from someone buying something you have handcrafted. That joy increases when people ask for custom pieces, they put their trust in you to create a product just for them which is incredible. Being able to share my work with others is extremely fulfilling as a creator/artist, the support is highly appreciated from everyone! Every single like, share, comment and save is important to me.”


5.    What is it like running a business while studying? 

“Definitely difficult. It can be super hard to balance out work and study along with things you WANT and NEED to do. In saying that, I should have a timetable, calendar, reminders and checklists; but I don’t. Somehow, I just push through, I listen to my mind and body, go with the flow of what I feel needs to be done which has been working well at the moment for me. I think that’s a big part of balancing work and study, understanding what your mind and body needs as well as the importance behind certain tasks. It will help you to get tasks done while not overworking or pushing yourself, taking care of yourself is the most important.”


Handmade jewellery sold at Dreamgazee. Photo supplied by Amelia Caldwell.


6.    Where do you hope to see your business in the future? 

“I’d really love to open up a stall in a market every now and again, get my pieces out to stylists and maybe even have my own personal online store. These goals are obviously big and will take time to reach but I’m really hoping I can get there eventually.”


7.     What advice would you give to other students? 

“I encourage others to donate materials or anything that can be reused rather than ending up in landfills, and contributing to the already growing climate crisis. We must learn to look at items we are going to throw out with new eyes, how can we create something from it? That’s my design process. To promote this thinking and process of creation would see huge changes in not only the fashion industry, but many other industries as well…


“Look at your design process and see how it can become more eco-friendly, sustainable and accessible. Also, to students and consumers in general, support your local small businesses! We appreciate all the help we can get, investing in slow fashion and handcrafted work is beneficial for everyone!”



Follow Amelia on @dreamgazee_ to view or purchase their products.


Australia, US and Japan look towards a cleaner, sustainable future

US and Japan Consul Generals speak to WSU students about their country's relationship with Australia and the work they are doing to combat climate cha...

The US Consul General Sharon Hudson-Dean and the Japan Consul General Kiya Masahiko spoke to students at Western Sydney University about the United States and Japan’s relationship with Australia and the work they are doing to combat the threat of climate change.

Consul-General of Japan in Sydney, Mr Kiya Masahiko with WSU students and International Studies lecturers at Parramatta South Campus. Photo by Shayma Abdellatif.

The two separate on-campus events were held in April and May this year at WSU Parramatta South campus. “Chat with a Diplomat” is embedded in university’s International Relations and Asian Studies major in the Humanities and Communication Arts program. These annual events invite students to the world of diplomacy, facilitating their engagement with working professionals and experts in the field.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison joined Prime Minister of Japan Suga Yoshihide, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and U.S President Joe Biden this March at an international summit to discuss the cooperation between the four countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Following the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue virtual summit meeting, Morrison issued a media release which stated that COVID-19, the threat of climate change and the security challenges facing the region summoned them with a renewed purpose. U.S Consul General, Sharon Hudson-Dean confirmed at the WSU event that the United States is setting up a US AID office in Canberra this year so that communication between the two countries and Australia will be instantaneous. This will allow for a more collaborative approach to handling issues and projects in the Indo-Pacific region.

“We’re definitely working closely together on the Pacific Island countries, that is a place where we are looking across the board at things we can do together, Australia and the US, to help these smaller nations,” says Hudson-Dean.

Head of Public Affairs for the US Consulate General Donald Maynard told students that one of the projects the United States and Australia are working on together is overseeing the electrification program in Papua New Guinea, focusing on renewable energy and how to efficiently use it.

“There is also talk of a powered conduit pipeline from northern Australia to Singapore which will help Australia export a lot of its renewable energy to Singapore,” Ms Maynard said.

US Consul General Sharon Hudson-Dean discussing how the United States are engaged in the fight to reduce global warming. Photo by Jefferson Lopez.

Tackling climate change and discussing strategies to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by 2050 was one of the main topics both Hudson-Dean and Kiya discussed. Japan set a goal of zero carbon emission by 2050, while the US is aiming for a 50 per cent reduction by 2030. In a media release, Morrison stated one of the main priorities each country has is the commitment to working together in reducing the impacts of climate change.

“We are united in recognising that climate change is a global priority and will work to strengthen the climate actions of all nations, including to keep a Paris-aligned temperature limit within reach,” says Mr Morrison.

Mr Kiya said that climate change is one of the most important global issues and Japan aims to take the lead towards change. He emphasised that resolving the issue requires collaborations from all global partners based on their strength and capacity. He adds that the issue is interlinked with major global issues including poverty, health, education, bio-diversity, security and peace.

“We need to address all these issues concurrently,” Mr Kiya notes.

Global warming is an issue high on the list for the United States who is ranked the second-highest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world as reported by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Hudson-Dean told students she believes that the Biden Administration’s infrastructure plan, a US$2 trillion economic package that is yet to pass Congress, is an important step towards reducing the impacts of climate change.

“The President and the Secretary of State have said very clearly that this is an existential problem,” states Ms Hudson-Dean.

The infrastructure plan will include investing US$174 billion in manufacturing electric vehicles, building a network of electric vehicle stations, commissioning electric buses and replacing federal government diesel vehicles for electric vehicles. US$180 billion will also be spent on new research and development with an emphasis on clean energy, fewer emissions and climate change research.

Ms Hudson-Dean acknowledges there will be challenges if they are to move forward saying “the US Congress has a number of people that don’t agree with some of these policies, so we will have to work through that”. She adds that collecting and analysing scientific data about the effects of global warming is key to making sure that the policymakers underpin their decisions using research and facts so that they can come up with policies that make sense.

“Having that data on hand is what policymakers need so that they can start looking at what are the implications, what would be the economic impact and what would be the health impact to come up with the right policies,” Ms Hudson-Dean said.


US Consul General Sharon Hudson-Dean speaking to students. Photo by Jefferson Lopez.

Japan is focused on transformation rather than the abrupt halt to the use of primary energy sources that contribute to climate change. He said an immediate ban on non-renewable energy is unrealistic and irresponsible due to the grave implications that would have on developing countries. Smaller states in the Indo-Pacific are not equipped with the resources and technologies to use cleaner energies and would inhibit their capacity to meet the demand for energy in underdeveloped and highly populated areas.

“Japan’s approach is not to ban coal altogether. Japan is making use of high-quality coal and using it in high tech manner to produce the lowest carbon emission,” Mr Kiya said.

Consul-General of Japan, Mr Kiya Masahiko explaining Japan’s climate strategy to WSU students at Parramatta South Campus. Photo Shayma Abdellatif.

Responding to a question from one of the students, Kiya said that although there is public concern in Japan regarding nuclear energy after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, this clean energy source remains one of sources that Japan will be using to achieve its set target.

“We retain the stable, reliable nuclear energy as one source of energy in Japan,” Mr Kiya said.

Since 2013, Japan has initiated more than 180 development projects to reduce carbon emissions in collaboration with 17 partner countries in Southeast Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa. Japan is also the second-largest donor to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) with a contribution of three billion US Dollars. This climate fund supports developing countries in reducing Green House Emissions as well as introducing clean-energy technology.

“What Japan has been doing in the Indo-Pacific region in the last three decades, is to improve infrastructure as the basis of economic growth,” Mr Kiya said.

As two of the closest US allies in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and Japan share strong economic and people-to-people ties. With Japan being Australia’s second-largest trading partner, Australia supplies around two-thirds of Japan’s coal, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Decisions to change energy sources will have a huge impact on the economic ties.

“The energy relationship is key to our two countries… it links Australia and Japan together and links it to the world,” says Mr Kiya.

To achieve the desired goal while ensuring minimum damage to both economies, Japan intends to source clean energy from Australia to replace coal and fill the gap caused by this decrease in demand for coal.

“Working with Australia, we make innovative ways to ensure the same or even less amount of energy consumption,” Mr Kiya said.

The two on-campus events were a great opportunity for students studying International Studies, as they were able to listen to and ask questions from diplomats with extensive experience in the field.

“The ability for our students in this diplomacy class to speak to such a high-ranking diplomat from one of the most important countries for Australia, is truly a highlight of our semester,” said Dr Diane Colman, lecturer in international relations and global politics at Western Sydney University.





















The call for climate change

Free scoops of ice cream have been handed out to university students all across Australia this month, as Ben & Jerry’s teamed up with the Austra...

Free scoops of ice cream have been handed out to university students all across Australia this month, as Ben & Jerry’s teamed up with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) to speak to young Australians about climate action.

Ben & Jerry’s and the AYCC have teamed to speak to young Australians about climate action. Photo: Supplied.

Together they visited select university campuses in Queensland, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory, to encourage students to check they are enrolled to vote for this upcoming federal election.

“The desired outcome is to get as many young Australians enrolled to vote, because their vote can really make a difference,” said Kent Hildred, Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission Manager.

In the last election, an estimated 254,432 eligible 18-24 year-olds weren’t enrolled to vote, and with the most marginal seat having won by just 32 votes, the AYCC handed out free scoops of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to make sure every vote counts.

“We really believe that the climate action policies are beyond urgent, it’s getting really desperate now,” said Hildred. “It’s more important than ever for these 18 to 24 year olds to really step up and get involved.”

According to a youth study by Vice in 2018, 43 percent young Australians are more concerned about the environment and climate change than any other global issue.

Just two weeks ago, nearly 30,000 students took the day off school to protest for lack of action against the climate change. The strike was led by a campaign to stop the Adani coal mine and all new fossil fuels, and to transition to 100 percent renewables by 2030.

Hildred says it’s important that the younger generation direct their attention to climate change and get educated, and to then make climate change action one of the number one considerations when they’re casting their vote in the next federal election.

Recent findings by the UN have found that there is only 11 years, or less, left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change.

Alex Pan, NSW School’s Coordinator, and volunteer for the AYCC, says young people are the ones that are going to be overwhelmingly affected by the effects of climate change.

“That’s why our current government needs to represent this, they need to reflect proper climate policy and care about our future,” said Pan.

Saturday May 11 is looking to be the most likely date for the 2019 federal election, the Australian reports.

Western fair at Western Sydney University’s Bankstown campus, featured a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cart, alongside the AYCC stall. Photo: Chanelle Mansour.



Written by Chanelle Mansour