OPINION

Climate policymakers must protect renters

I'M a nurse. I go to work every day with the goal of keeping my patients healthy and safe. But when I get home from work, and hang up my scrubs, it is here I often face the greatest danger to my own health.

In the single bedroom apartment I rent in Mawson, Canberra, indoor temperatures can get up to 40°C in the summer and down to 5°C in the winter.

These conditions are unsafe to human health.

To keep myself comfortable during summer, I close the curtains, crank up the floor fans, spray myself with water and place wet towels on my forehead.

In winter, the stone wall traps the cold winds at night and turns my home into a freezer.

I sleep under a pile of five blankets and turn up my small portable heater to keep warm.

These solutions only do so much when fundamentally, my home has poor energy efficiency standards. It's poorly insulated and sealed.

Yet my landlord has ignored requests for air conditioning and better insulation, and, I worry I can't push it further or I will be evicted.

Such conditions take a huge toll on physical and mental health. The blistering daytime temperatures inside my home make it impossible to get adequate rest after an exhausting overnight shift.

I'm not alone in my struggle as a renter. As advocacy group Better Renting's new Home Baked report shows, thousands of renters like me also endure dangerous poor-quality housing and unhelpful landlords.

As climate change drives more intense weather conditions, renters like me will have little choice but to endure these extremes.

This isn't right. Everybody deserves to live in a safe and affordable home. A liveable home shouldn't be a luxury.

We need the government to take stronger action on climate change and introduce a credible policy that quickly brings down emissions. But equally, we need laws that improve the energy efficiency of all housing stock. And, better access to shady areas and cool public spaces like libraries and swimming pools for the most vulnerable members of our society.

As autumn offers a short respite between the scorching summer and freezing winter temperatures in many rental homes across the country, I hope the government is paying attention to this critical issue.

Just as I go to work with people's health and wellbeing as my highest priority, I hope that our policymakers are doing the same.

Jacob Moir is a nurse and an ACT renter