Deakin University
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Climate change and social inclusion: opportunities for justice and empowerment

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journal contribution
posted on 2008-03-01, 00:00 authored by Teresa CapetolaTeresa Capetola
...the greatest untapped resource at our disposal lies in the disadvantaged Australians living in our most excluded communities. (Nicholson 2007 p. 4)

The commons are where justice and sustainability converge, where ecology and equity meet. (Shiva 2005 p. 50)

Since 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recognised human induced climate change to be primarily a result of burning fossil fuels and land clearing (Lee 2007). Changes to the world's climate patterns have been occurring for decades, but only in recent times has climate change arrived in our collective conscious. An onslaught of extreme weather events, destruction and failure of crops, increasing levels of water restrictions, government announcement of desalination plants. proposed increase in prices for utilities such as power and water - have ushered climate change into the Australian lexicon.

The challenges for all of us are many and varied and perhaps even unimaginable. as many propose a global reduction in annual C02 emissions of between 60-80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050.

We are not talking just about the re-construction of our world, but about its re-invention. Ryan (2007)

How will climate change affect us? Who is most vulnerable? What will be the features of policies and strategies to combat climate change that ensure an equitable and just response across our entire society? Are our present social-cultural justice paradigms of social exclusion and inclusion adequate in addressing the impending health consequences that are likely to result from climate change, and in supporting an equitable. harmonious and fruitful life for all population groups in the future?

This paper, written in the spirit of solution-oriented research. focusing on the causes of positive health rather than the causes of disease and other problems (Robinson & Sirard 2005). explores the possibility of a paradigm shift which imagines the social inclusion of specific population groups, not as an appended extra, but integral to the design of an equitable, sustainable low carbon society of the future.



Just policy: a journal of Australian social policy




23 - 30


Victorian Council of Social Service


Melbourne, Vic.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2008, Victorian Council of Social Service