The present chapter introduces the case study of Plaine Commune’s vulnerability to heat waves. With a significant projected increase in intensity and frequency of heat waves – up to one heat wave per year of the same intensity as in 2003 is projected for the second half of the 21st century (Table 5), Plaine Commune is envisaging mortality, morbidity and assets loss risks not only because of its present day vulnerability but also because of the future planned changes on the territory. The degree of vulnerability to heat waves differs across Plaine Comune’s population, being higher for the poor, elderly, young, disabled and otherwise marginalized. These conditions partially underlie the higher physical exposure to heat. The relevant aspects of territory’s vulnerability are presented further.
Table 5. Projected number of heat waves of 2003 type in the 21st century.Source: adapted from IPCC 2009
In order to launch adaptation programs, the decision makers on the territory need to reduce uncertainties at least in what concerns the present-day vulnerability to climate change, its reasons and consequences. As the future of the territory and of the climate are dependent not only on the orderly strategies and plans of development, but also on a tangled interaction of personal and collective choices, on the local as well as on the global level, it’s deemed uncertain and largely unpredictable. Although uncertain about its future, Plaine Commune dares to invest in and implement several adaptation measures which are supposed to both reduce vulnerability and improve the living conditions on the territory.