The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Chapter 4: Climate Change Impacts on the Poor – a Case-study of Australia’s Indigenous Population and the Impact of Australia’s Response on this Population
Karen Bubna-Litic 4.1 INTRODUCTION Climate change is likely to affect indigenous communities significantly, as they often lack the economic and technical resources available to non-indigenous communities to respond to the social and environmental challenges of climate change. These challenges include the increased costs resulting from climate change policy, decreased availability of water and food, decreased security and availability of housing, and adverse health effects. These challenges will be more difficult for indigenous communities to meet because they generally already experience a lower economic standard of living and have less education and training.1 Furthermore, climate change policies, unless carefully designed with attention to their impact on indigenous communities, are likely to disproportionately affect indigenous communities because those communities are generally located in physically isolated, fragile and harsh environments. This chapter presents a case study of the impact of climate change and climate change policy on indigenous Australians. It attempts to answer two questions. The first question is whether climate change will disproportionately impact indigenous Australians? The second question is whether Australia’s response to climate change, by putting a price on carbon, will disproportionately burden indigenous Australians? The chapter concludes that the answer to both questions is ‘yes’. Given that fact, the Australian government needs to pay particular attention to indigenous Australians, who may be disproportionately burdened because they are indigenous. To date, in the climate change debate in Australia, there has been little attention paid to the particular position of indigenous Australians, with the 67 68 Poverty alleviation and environmental law...
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