The Labor Government’s climate change plan has been both welcomed and questioned, with some concerns raised about an affordable transition to clean energy for those experiencing financial hardship.

According to the CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), Cassandra Goldie, “Climate change hits people living on low-incomes or experiencing disadvantage first and hardest, and failing to act will create greater poverty in the future. Therefore an economy-wide plan to cut emissions like what Labor is proposing is critical.”

While Dr Goldie said that Labor’s climate change plan and targets are very welcome in the face of ongoing inaction by the Coalition Government, she also believes that the level of ambition is likely to fall short of what is needed to protect people and the planet.

“Australia can and must achieve net zero emissions well before 2050, at a minimum Labor should commit to review their targets before 2025, consistent with the Paris Climate Change Agreement review periods,” Dr Goldie said.

“ACOSS is also concerned that political leaders are falling short on ensuring the transition to clean energy and economy is equitable and inclusive.

“There are three million people who live in poverty in Australia. They pay disproportionately more of their income on essential services, like energy, and cannot afford or access solutions like energy efficiency, solar and batteries.”

Dr Goldie also said that political leaders should be backing mandatory energy efficiency standards in rental properties, investing in energy efficiency, solar andbatteries in all community housing, and providing a fund for low-income home-owners.

“Parties have also failed to prioritise climate adaptation and resilience, despite the rise in frequency and intensity of extreme weather, like fire, drought, floods and heatwaves, which is already impacting on people’s homes, livelihoods, health, quality of life and employment,” Dr Goldie said.

“Climate change hits people living on low incomes or experiencing disadvantage first and hardest. They have the fewest protections from climate change impacts, live in the most affected places and have fewer resources, less money, choice, power and social connections to cope, adapt or recover.

“Resources and policies are needed to help people, communities and community organisations become more resilient to the climate change already occurring, and the further change already locked in.”

Siobhan Day is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and Pump Industry magazine, and has been part of the team since early 2019. With a background in management in the non-profit sector, Siobhan has extensive experience in communications, professional writing and client management. She holds a Bachelor of Business and Communications and is currently completing a postgraduate degree.

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