Welfare groups seek equity in climate change response

Three national welfare agencies including Catholic Social Services Australia have called on Prime Minister John Howard to consider the impact of climate change on disadvantaged people as an integral part of the Government's response to an emissions trading report due today.

The Government's response to the Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading must focus on three Es - equity as well as the environment and the economy - three national welfare organisations said in a statement today.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence, Catholic Social Services Australia and the National Welfare Rights Network called for Prime Minister John Howard to make the impact of climate change on disadvantaged people integral to his response to the Task Group, which is due to report today.

They said that clever responses to climate change can create a fairer Australia, by helping to cushion low-income and disadvantaged households from its impact and by assisting them to make the most of fresh opportunities such as new jobs.

The three organisations have written to the Federal Government as well as to the Opposition about their concerns, based on their submission to the Task Group.

The organisations in April made a joint submission to the Task Group, which drew on commissioned research showing that both climate change itself and the national response to it will have a disproportionate impact on low-income and disadvantaged people and communities.

"We endorse the need for urgent and significant action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, one significant component of which is an emissions trading system, along with substantial reductions targets," the submission said.

"The way the Government deals with climate change is a golden opportunity to help low-income and other disadvantaged households.

"There's an urgent need to implement measures that reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but any emissions trading scheme must not leave disadvantaged people worse off," Tony Nicholson, Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, said today.

"Low income and disadvantaged people will need substantial assistance to reduce their carbon footprint," he said.

"Social equity issues have not been routinely considered in the national debate over climate change, but we are hopeful that the Government will reflect Australia's traditional support for a 'fair go' for all in its consideration of the impact of emissions trading and other measures on disadvantaged people," said Frank Quinlan, Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Australia.

Michael Raper, President of the National Welfare Rights Network added that "low-income and other disadvantaged households are particularly vulnerable to both the physical effects of climate change, such as increased storm and hail damage".

They are also vulnerable to the response including "energy price increases resulting from an emissions trading system - and the flow-on effect on other goods and services".

The submission recommends both financial compensation programs for disadvantaged households and programs that assist in making homes more energy efficient, which could be funded from revenue from any emissions trading scheme

Response to Climate Change Must be about Environment Economy and EQUITY (Media Release, CSSA, Brotherhood of St Laurence, National Welfare Rights Network, 31/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Social Services Australia
Brotherhood of St Laurence
National Welfare Rights Network

Budget should be statement of values: Vinnies chief (CathNews, 8/5/07)

31 May 2007