The unequal burden of climate change

05 Jun 2022

The cost of living, housing and home ownership, health; these were all top issues in the recent federal election. And while party policies differed in terms of solutions and priorities, we can no longer hide from the fact that these issues are all interrelated. And what is a common thread that runs through most? The climate crisis we find ourselves in.

Climate change is not causal for all things, but it does impact not only the way that we live, but the money that is required to address issues born out of unstable weather patterns.

When you go to the supermarket and your bag of fresh produce is significantly more than it was several years ago, you tap your card and go on with your day. If you can afford it.

Live in an area prone to bushfires, floods or rising sea levels? You may want to make modifications to your home and property, or even move given the rising cost of insurance. If you can afford it.

Perhaps you are struggling with poor health as a result of high temperatures, smoke or pollution that requires medication or treatment. You can purchase new medications or travel for medical appointments. If you can afford it.

What we know, is that people on low incomes are disproportionally impacted by climate change. From immediate negative impacts due to extreme weather events, to preventative measures that could be implemented, all require additional monetary resources. And this is beyond the reach of a growing number of Australians.

As a philanthropic foundation that has been in operation since 1886 with a sole focus of assisting South Australians experiencing financial hardship, it’s fair to say that The Wyatt Trust’s conversations about climate change didn’t happen as quickly as they could have. But we acknowledge that the adverse impacts of our climate crisis are being shouldered unequally, by those least able to afford it. This is not an opinion but an irrefutable fact.

This June, coinciding with World Environment Day, The Wyatt Trust is publicly committing to examining our own practices. What are we doing to ensure our grants, investments and operations have a climate change lens? How do we acknowledge and ensure that an urgent and present-day issue can be applied to objects conceived by Dr William Wyatt when he wrote the Trust’s governing documents all the way back in 1881?

We share our commitment via this statement, outlining our intentions and holding ourselves accountable to developing and implementing a strategy to carry these out.

The recent election results made it clear that Australians want action on climate change and this extends beyond government. The potential of government to implement meaningful responses means that organisations like ours will be complimenting this work and amplifying change. As our work progresses, we look forward to sharing more of this journey with you.

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