Welfare and Enviro Groups Join Forces on Climate Change
10 April 2007 at 10:30 am
Australia’s welfare, climate and environment groups have joined forces to tackle climate change.
Four national welfare, climate and environment organisations met in Melbourne recently to consider how Australia can ensure climate change and measures to counter global warming don’t worsen social inequality.
The Equity in Response to Climate Change Roundtable brought together experts from Australia and Britain to put the spotlight on how low-income and disadvantaged people are on the front line of climate change impacts.
The partners in the roundtable – the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the National Welfare Rights Network and The Climate Institute – formed the coalition to encourage knowledge and advocacy on the impact of climate change on disadvantaged people and on how social equity can be built into the urgent responses to global warming.
Tony Nicholson, Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence says low income households are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change and they will need special assistance to deal with the costs and opportunities that will be inherent in Australia’s responses to climate change.
Don Henry, Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, told the roundtable that it’s very clear low income people and disadvantaged people are highly vulnerable to the extreme temperatures, water shortages and the increase in cyclones, floods and droughts that come with climate change.
He says Governments must act now to reduce greenhouse pollution and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Michael Raper, President of the National Welfare Rights Network, said market forces to respond to climate change may be efficient and timely but Australia needs to ensure that it both avoids harsh financial consequences and builds positive opportunities for the 6.5 million Australians receiving social security.
Issues discussed at the Melbourne roundtable included:
• The “business as usual” approach to climate change isn’t working.
• Disadvantaged people will bear the brunt of the economic and social impacts that flow from inaction on climate change and this will only increase social inequality.
• The transition to a cleaner energy future must be informed by the principle of social equity to ensure existing inequalities are not worsened.
• Without good policy and assistance, disadvantaged people and people on low incomes are least able to protect themselves from climate change and possible responses to it, such as changes in energy prices.