Equity and climate change

Climate change will affect every Australian and many of its impacts are likely to hit disadvantaged households hard. People aged over 65, for example, are particularly at risk during heatwaves, which are predicted to become more frequent and severe in south-eastern Australia. 

Many low-income households are under-insured, making them more vulerable to losses from extreme weather events like storms or floods.

Along with these direct impacts of climate change, many households are facing difficulties with higher energy bills. Poorer Australians cannot afford to invest in fuel-efficient cars, home appliances that will cut their energy costs, and more efficient hot water systems. Private renters face even greater hurdles to energy efficiency. This means that as energy prices go 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 require. 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:

  • fair and effective measures to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, with appropriate safeguards for vulnerable households 
  • 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 disadvantaged Australians.

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:

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The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.