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Aid groups unite for climate action

21 January 2020 at 4:30 pm
Maggie Coggan
The charities are calling on the government to step up the climate fight 

Maggie Coggan | 21 January 2020 at 4:30 pm


Aid groups unite for climate action
21 January 2020 at 4:30 pm

The charities are calling on the government to step up the climate fight 

Some of Australia’s biggest charities have joined forces to deliver an urgent climate action plan to the federal government amid the national bushfire crisis. 

World Vision Australia, Save the Children Australia, Plan International Australia and Oxfam Australia issued a joint statement on Tuesday, calling on the federal government to set more ambitious emission reduction targets and show global leadership on climate action. 

The statement said climate change was “undoubtedly a human rights issue”, and impacted on the right to life, health, and an adequate standard of living. 

“Every day, our aid workers see the very real and devastating impact of climate change on the world’s most vulnerable people. This includes children, who have contributed least to the crisis but are already bearing the brunt of its impacts,” the statement said. 

It pointed to the food crisis unfolding across Southern Africa, flash flooding in Indonesia, the devastating 2018 cyclone in Mozambique and the Australian bushfires as examples of how the climate crisis was already impacting the lives of people around the globe. 

Andrew White, World Vision head of policy and advocacy, told Pro Bono News that four of the largest global humanitarian groups uniting to drive change on climate was significant.    

“For all four of these organisations to come together at this time and issue this plea to our political leaders is a really important moment and it signifies we hope a point of inflection in the debate on climate in Australian politics,” White said. 

He said the impacts of climate change would reverse development gains made by humanitarian groups over the past 25 years, and make dealing with natural disasters even harder.  

“We are very concerned not only for development gains to be reversed, but also the potential that climate change has actually caused damage to these communities we work with,” he said. 


What action do they want the government to take? 

  • Implement emission reduction targets in line with keeping the global temperature rise to within 1.5 ̊C
  • Demonstrate global leadership on transitioning to a low-emissions economy.
  • Support re-greening and reforestation programs that build community resilience and act as carbon sinks.
  • Fund clean jobs.
  • Sign the Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action.
  • Build the capacity of vulnerable communities in Australia and overseas to fight the impacts of climate change.


The Morrison government has remained firm on its climate position, saying that Australia was “meeting and beating” the emission reduction targets it took to last year’s election.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australia was leading the way in renewable technologies and was “getting the job done”. 

But Oxfam Australia climate change advocacy coordinator Dr Simon Bradshaw said because there was now such a broad array of voices calling for more action on climate change, it would be hard for the Morrison government to ignore it. 

“All those voices together is what’s really powerful,” Bradshaw told Pro Bono News.  

“We also bring a particular perspective of being international agencies who have been very much attuned to what’s happening in other parts of the world, especially in our pacific region for many years now.” 

White added it was important that the entire community sector remained united on the issue so they could continue to advocate and speak for those without a voice.  

“Raising those voices of children and communities affected by climate change… so that governments, not only in Australia but internationally, take notice and take this seriously,” he said. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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