Climate change is happening throughout Australia and across the world. It affects people in all places, from the most concentrated urban areas to the most remote communities. It is becoming increasingly clear that the impacts of climate change are greatest on people in the poorest countries on earth, and on the most marginalised people in many developed countries. Responding to climate change in an effective and equitable way is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st Century.

To minimise the unfairness inherent in climate change, increasing attention is being paid to the idea of a ‘just transition’ – that is, how to move from current untenable economic and social systems to an ecologically sustainable, zero greenhouse gas emissions world in a way that ensures those least able to cope with climate change receive the help they need to successfully adapt.

A genuinely just transition will provide a fair and inclusive transformative process that finds common interest across the full range of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Considerable effort is currently being made by multilateral organisations, national governments, and through a host of local government and community-based programs and initiatives to achieve just transitions.

Jesuit Social Services wishes to expand the conversation on just transitions to include people and communities already experiencing disadvantage and marginalisation, who stand to be most affected by the impacts of a changing climate.

For the community services sector that works closely with people on the margins, climate change and the ecological crisis present a new set of challenges. We feel there are added insights and challenges specific to this sector and our work that could contribute to any transition being as fair and just as possible.

This paper is part of an ongoing symposium series exploring Just Transitions and Ecological Justice hosted by Jesuit Social Services in Melbourne, Sydney and the Northern Territory. The first paper in this series is Ecological Justice: Expanding the Conversation.