Climate Justice

Climate change is not just an environmental issue. Climate change is a significant social justice issue. Why? Because while climate change affects everyone, it doesn’t affect everyone equally.

Climate change has had, and will have, a marked impact on the way people are able to live their lives. The effects of climate change have the potential to ruin infrastructure and traditional industry, deplete fresh water and food supplies, and change the social and cultural patterns that have grown around everyday practices. It has the potential to impact detrimentally on lifestyles and livelihoods around the world and potentially lead to widespread humanitarian disaster, famine and displacement.

  • The UnitingJustice Issues Paper “Tackling Climate Change“ provides an introduction to some of the key issues surrounding climate change – both domestically and internationally.

Climate Justice: An International Perspective

As we are increasingly discovering, the impacts of climate change are not evenly distributed – the poorest countries and communities are suffering the earliest and the most.

One of the most troubling aspects of climate change is that it will affect the world’s poorest first, while these people are not responsible for the bulk of global carbon emissions.


In places where people live closely with the land; where infrastructure does not provide a safety-net in times of economic decline and in low lying nations where rising sea levels will swallow homes and agricultural land, people are already feeling the affects of global warming.

Australia’s response to the impending humanitarian crisis of climate change has been lacklustre. While the Australian Government has refused to recognise climate refugees, the New Zealand Government has committed to recieving a yearly quota of refugees from the Pacific Access Category. Australia must re-examine its aid priorities in the light of the imminent humanitarian problem caused by global warming.


  • If you wish to learn more about Climate Refugees. Click here to read the Citizen’s Guide to Climate Refugees
  • For more recent UnitingJustice information on climate change click here.
  • A group of Australia’s religious leaders have banded together and signed an open letter to the Federal Government, calling for immediate and decisive action on climate change. To read the article click here.
  • The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) has produced the background paper Human Rights and Climate Change examing the impacts of climate change both in Australia and internationally.

Climate Justice: A Domestic Perspective

Even in Australia, certain households and communities are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than others. Agricultural communities are disadvantaged by the increased frequency of extreme weather events caused by climate change, such as severe droughts, floods and storms. Groups in the community who experience social and economic disadvantage tend to be less able to cope with and adapt to climate change.

  • The Brotherhood of St Lawrence provides a selection of articles, research reports and submissions on climate change and low income households in Australia.

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