Don’t abandon the poor and the sick in a rush to combat climate change Health and Wellbeing

Don’t abandon the poor and the sick in a rush to combat climate change


Victoria’s peak social advocacy body is challenging governments to put people experiencing hardship first, as they scramble to combat climate change.

“Climate change demands an urgent response. Our choice is to act now, or watch the planet die,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.

“But our response must also be fair and equitable. It must ensure no one is left behind.”

“It shouldn’t just be the ‘healthy and wealthy’ who are supported through climate change.”

Ms King said particular groups will be hit hardest by climate change, and those people should be at the center of the public debates about how we respond.

“That includes people on fixed or low incomes, social housing tenants, people with a disability or health challenge, Aboriginal people and those living in farming, coastal or rural communities.”

“Any policy to combat climate change, or help people adapt to its effects, must be designed in partnership with these groups and targeted towards them,” she said.

Our response to climate change must be urgent and comprehensive. But it must also be fair and equitable. Nobody should be left behind.

Ms King highlighted Victoria’s Rooftop Solar for Rental Properties program as a prime example of a policy where the right balance needs to be struck. Currently, tenants aren’t required to pay for solar panels to be installed on their landlord’s home. But the Victorian Government has plans for a renters’ co-payment during a future phase of the scheme.

“There shouldn’t be any upfront cost to renters if a landlord wants to upgrade their investment property,” Ms King said.

“The devil is always in the detail, and this is a good example of a positive policy where we need to get the detail right so everybody can participate in the transition to a cleaner future.”

The call comes as VCOSS releases a new report, A Climate of Fairness, which recommends 21 measures Victoria should take to respond to climate change fairly.

The recommendations include:

  • Expanding energy efficiency programs for low-income earners,
  • Introducing meaningful energy efficiency standards for rental properties,
  • Boosting public transport, and even
  • Considering government subsidies for people who can’t afford to buy a low-emissions car.

“Because if we respond to climate change in a way that is unfair, we’ll be punishing the people who can least afford it: the sick, the poor and the socially isolated,” Ms King warned.


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