Heat disproportionately affects less wealthy and more diverse Brussels neighbourhoods

Heat disproportionately affects less wealthy and more diverse Brussels neighbourhoods
This file picture dated 8 July 1976 shows a man lying on his mattress outside his house as he tries to sleep during the Belgian summer 1976 heatwave. Credit: Belga Photo Archives

As Brussels is hit by severe heatwaves, the city’s neighbourhoods with the lowest incomes, which usually have the highest proportion of people of non-European descent, are disproportionately affected by the high temperatures.

Even outside of the capital, the poorest and most diverse neighbourhoods also have the highest number of heatwave days across Flemish cities, according to a data analysis by De Tijd.

Climate inequality

Cities struggle to cool down in comparison with smaller towns and villages as a result of the heat island effect, but even within a city, the differences are noticeable. The hottest districts face double the number of days when the average temperature is more than 25°C, according to the Climate Portal of the Flemish Environment Agency.

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The hottest neighbourhoods in Brussels have an average net taxable income that is more than half as low as those in the coldest neighbourhoods, making the poorest districts the warmest districts.

The proportion of local residents with roots outside the European Union is also multiplied by two, three or even six if you compare the coolest neighbourhoods with the warmest.

Residents of the hottest neighbourhoods run a higher risk of heat stress and health problems.


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