Equity and climate change
Why climate change and its impact on poverty matter to us
Climate change will affect every Australian, but its impact will inevitably be felt hardest by those who are disadvantaged or on low incomes. Poorer Australians tend to have less fuel-efficient cars, often live far from public transport and have poorly insulated homes, with expensive forms of heating and inefficient hot water systems. Most can’t afford to invest in fuel-efficient cars and in appliances that will cut their energy costs. Private renters face even greater hurdles to energy efficiency. This means that as the price of energy goes up, the poorest Australians will be least able to adjust and will see their standard of living reduced unless assistance measures are put in place.
Many are also employed in industries that are vulnerable to the economic restructuring that climate change will cause. This makes climate change not just an important environmental issue, but an important social issue too.
We need to ensure that low-income Australians are protected from the impacts of climate change and that our responses to climate change do not increase social inequality. In fact, done the right way, taking action on climate change can make us a fairer and wealthier nation.
What we want
The Brotherhood of St Laurence is urging the Commonwealth Government to address climate change fairly and equitably so that neither government policy nor climate change itself increase financial stress or decrease living standards for low-income families.
The Brotherhood wants:
- a fair and equitable carbon price, with appropriate compensation and assistance for low-income and vulnerable households
- compensation and assistance provided as:
- direct financial assistance – to enable these households to pay for the direct and indirect costs of a carbon price
- targeted support for low-income households to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and appliances
- a review of energy pricing arrangements and appropriate reforms to ensure energy affordability for low-income and vulnerable households.
What we’re doing
The Brotherhood of St Laurence has been at the forefront of research into the potential effects of climate change on disadvantaged people and communities. This is enabling us to work with governments, businesses and environmental organisations to devise socially equitable solutions.
Our current focus is on:
See also our other work on climate change.