Community sector unites to call for fair fast climate action this decade

Ahead of the global climate  change conference in November, 100 community service organisations and charities have signed the historic Community Sector Climate Declaration calling on the Federal Government to commit to stronger emission reduction targets and fair and inclusive policies to cut climate pollution this decade, with clear agreement that 2050 is too late to protect people from more dangerous climate change.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie says the community sector is compelled to speak out for stronger action to address climate change because rapidly worsening climate change is hurting people with the least in our communities hardest. Without fair, fast and inclusive action on climate change, poverty and inequality will grow.

“Community organisations are increasingly on the frontline of helping communities hit hard by the impacts of more intense and frequent bushfires, drought, floods, storms, and heatwaves, made worse by climate change.

“We have seen firsthand the increasing devastation of climate change impacts on communities – affecting their mental and physical health, homes, jobs, general quality of life and sadly loss of life.

“People with the least are impacted by climate change first, worse, and longest. This is made even worse by a slow or poorly managed transition because people who are financially or socially disadvantaged have to fewer resources to cope, adapt and recover.

“The current debate about whether the federal government should commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050 is completely divorced from the reality of what is needed to protect the people and communities bearing the brunt of climate impacts. Waiting until 2050 will be too late. Our failure to act faster and more fairly will be unforgivable.”

Organisations who have signed the Climate Declaration include Anglicare, Community Mental Health Australia, Financial Counselling Australia, Oxfam, Save the Children, St Vincent De Paul’s Society, The Benevolent Society, Uniting Communities and more.

ACOSS Program Director – Climate and Energy, Kellie Caught said: “Taking fast, fair and inclusive action to address climate change will not only protect the people and places we love, but has the ability to improve the lives of people facing disadvantage, from the cities to the outback.

“With the right policies, action on climate change creates opportunities for more affordable, healthier and reliable energy, housing and transport suited to a changing environment and access to jobs in the new energy economy.

“As world leaders gather together in one months’ time, Australia has the opportunity to go from laggard to world leader by cutting pollution and creating healthier, thriving communities and economy.”

Community sector organisations will engage in climate advocacy throughout this week, including meetings with MPs, to amplify the need to better protect communities and those with the least who are already struggling to cope with the impacts of climate change.

View the Community Sector Climate Declaration and all signatories here

Sample of organisations who have signed the Community Sector Climate Declaration and their reasons why:

Anglicare: Anglicare Australia Network members are daily helping people with the reality of our overheating world. We must act urgently to limit the impacts of climate change. We must also ensure that we respond in a way that builds resilient, equitable communities that support those most vulnerable to extreme changes in our environment.

Community Mental Health Australia: Several recent research studies have found that concerns about Climate Change are increasingly featuring as a major theme in suicidal ideation particularly for young people. For them and others the existential risk posed by climate change is several orders of magnitude of concerns above the transitional issue like the possible reliability of energy supply, increased energy prices or the structural changes in employment for people working in transitional industries.

Financial Counselling Australia: We see the impacts of climate change in financial counselling casework when people lose their homes or incomes because of climate disasters. It is people on the lowest incomes, with the fewest resources, that will be the most hurt. And that is inherently unfair.

Meals on Wheels NSW: Over the past two years, our services have all been touched in some way by catastrophic climate events that are happening locally, so we need to work towards mitigating these effects of climate change for the future.

Oxfam Australia: Oxfam exists to help people and communities achieve self-sufficiency in the long term. The climate crisis affects all of us, but it hurts some communities more than others. We tackle injustice at its root cause and work for economic, gender, climate and First People’s justice.

St Vincent de Paul Society: Climate change does not discriminate but some in our society will feel its impacts more. If we act now, we can avoid the worst injustices of climate change and other ecological crises, and take hold of the opportunity to create more sustainable and equitable communities in which everyone can enjoy the quality of life many people today have been privileged to experience.

Save the Children: Children are the least responsible for the climate crisis, yet they will bear the greatest burden of its impact. There is no greater threat to their rights; their health, education and survival, than climate change.