Climate change caused by human activities is one of the most serious, far-reaching, and urgent challenges faced by people living in Australia and elsewhere.
Climate change has, and will continue to increase both mean and extreme temperatures, as well as the frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as heatwaves, bushfires, floods and storms.
Impacts of climate change will create risks for health, livelihoods, water supply, human security and economic growth, with direct impact on the enjoyment and progressive realisation of human rights. The disruption caused by climate change will also place our communities and democratic institutions under great stress.
Climate change is a social justice and intergenerational equity issue. Climate-related risks will disproportionately impact people and communities experiencing disadvantage, as well as future generations. People experiencing disadvantage and discrimination have less resources to protect themselves from climate-related risks. They are less likely to be heard during public debate around mitigation and adaptation policies, and may become further disadvantaged in the event of an abrupt, badly planned transition.
Unabated, dangerous climate change will increasingly become a cause of disadvantage and a barrier to justice and fairness, endangering PIAC’s vision of a fair, just and democratic society.
We particularly acknowledge the impact climate change will have on First Nations people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people cared continuously for the Australian continent and islands for more than 60,000 years. We must continue to care for this land and its inhabitants in the future.
The people who have historically contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions will be disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change. Climate justice means commitment to act to alleviate this injustice. The scale of the climate justice challenge, and the potential consequences of unabated climate change can be daunting.
But with crisis also comes opportunity. The necessary reshaping of our social and economic systems is an opportunity to reduce inequality and make progress towards social justice. Our climate crisis response must be based on a human rights framework and contribute to advancing human rights.
PIAC’s work will be just as important as ever as the impacts of climate change continue to materialise. We will need to protect and improve our democratic institutions. Accountability of decision-makers will remain essential. Transparency of law, policy, and decision-making processes will be needed for a fair and efficient climate change response. A strong civil society, with capacity to propose solutions to government and assist in their implementation, will help lead the way on climate justice.
We support the call of Community Legal Centres Australia for immediate action by Commonwealth, State, Territory and local government to rapidly reduce emissions, ensure a just transition to a carbon neutral economy, and create affordable, climate-safe communities.
We will continue to consider the impacts of the climate crisis on people facing disadvantage and the need to avoid catastrophic climate change through emissions reduction in PIAC’s work. PIAC will continue to work towards a more sustainable future in a fair, just and democratic society.