Transitioning to a zero carbon economy:

Implications for low income and disadvantaged households

Transitioning to a zero carbon economy:
Implications for low income and disadvantaged households

This forum took place on Wednesday 25 May 2016 at the University of Melbourne

Achieving the global emissions reduction targets set in Paris in November 2015 requires profound and urgent change across the Australian economy – namely the transition to a zero-carbon future. How this transition is managed will impact us all, but has particular implications for people affected by poverty and disadvantage. Cassandra Goldie (ACOSS) and Tony Nicholson (Brotherhood of St Laurence) invite you to join leaders from the sector, government, business and academia to deliberate a planned and just transition.

View the forum presentations

View the image gallery

In November 2015, 193 nations agreed at the Paris COP21 to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Achieving the Paris target requires swift and deep decarbonisation of the global economy and a move towards net-zero carbon in the second half of this century. This will require massive investment in renewable energy, dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and productivity, a shift towards electric vehicles, changes in agricultural practices and land use, and improvements in urban design.

What will be the impacts of deep decarbonisation on low-income Australian households? What role should the community sector play in helping disadvantaged households and communities adapt to climate change and to the transition to deep decarbonisation?

This forum:

  1. provided a briefing on the outcomes of the Paris negotiations
  2. identifed the implications for Australia, including how we can meet the decarbonisation challenge
  3. shared knowledge on existing policy and programs and identify knowledge and capacity gaps
  4. identified opportunities and risks for vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians and organisations that work with them.

For more information: contact Damian Sullivan dsullivan(at) (03) 9483 1176 


Forum presentations


After Paris: Emissions reductions, the risks and opportunities for low income and disadvantaged Australians and the social service sector

What are the implications of the transition for low-income Australians?

Erwin Jackson interview


Cassandra Goldie interview


Panel discussion: A fair transition – social and economic sustainability in the shift from coal to renewables

Ben Davison (ACTU), Frank Jotzo (ANU), Miriam Lyons (Centre for Policy Development, GetUp), Tim Nelson (AGL), Tennant Reed (Australian Industry Group) – view Tennant Reed's presentation (PDF, 837 KB)

Tim Nelson interview


Tennant Reed interview



Playing our part: decarbonising the sector

  • Addressing the financial drivers: Low carbon investing a sector example
  • Uniting Communities goes net zero
  • Barriers and enablers to greening our organisations

Discussion leaders: Erwin Jackson (The Climate Institute), Mark Henley (Uniting Communities) - view Mark Henley's presentation (PDF, 1.16MB), Terrona Ramsay (Koo Wee Rup Regional Health Service) – view Terrona Ramsay's presentation (PDF, 566 KB), Facilitator Bridget Tehan (VCOSS)

Housing and energy efficiency

  • Ambitious energy efficiency: implications for low income households
  • Public and community housing: opportunities and challenges
  • Private rental housing and minimum standards
  • Accelerating the transition

Discussion leaders: Mark O'Brien (Tenants Union of Victoria), Damian Sullivan (Brotherhood of St Laurence) – view Damian Sullivan's presentation (PDF, 235 KB), Jacob Wallace (DHHS) – view Jacob Wallace's  presentation (PDF, 205 KB). Facilitator: John Thwaites (Climate Works)

Mark O'Brien interview


Adapting to unavoidable change

  • Reducing the risk: some degree of climate change is already locked in so how can the sector and those affected by poverty adapt to unavoidable change?
  • Factors to consider: primary, secondary and tertiary impacts on communities and organisations from heat, drought, fire, poor air quality, disruptions to energy or communication services, under-insurance etc.

Discussion leaders: Bridget Tehan (VCOSS), Kris Newton (Mountains Community Resource Network), Alianne Rance (Loop & Co.) Facilitator: Emily Hamilton (ACOSS)

Renewables, energy prices and a low carbon future

  • What impact will decarbonisation have on energy prices for low income households? 
  • Renewable energy and implications for low-income households: access to solar PV and battery storage, more large scale renewables. 

Discussion leaders: Bruce Mountain (CME), Miriam Lyons (Centre for Policy Development, GetUp) - view Miriam Lyons' presentation (PDF, 1.32 MB), Jo De Silva (SACOSS) - view Jo De Silva's presentation (PDF, 1.5 MB). Facilitator: John Wiseman (Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne)

Miriam Lyons interview


Jo De Silva interview


For more information: Contact Damian Sullivan dsullivan(at) (03) 9483 1176

This forum was organised by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Australian Council of Social Service

Photography and video interviews courtesy of Janak Rogers


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