Why We Need to Think About Inequality and Climate Change Together

Image via Wikimedia commons
Monday 4 June 2018
6.00 - 7.30pm

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Law School Foyer, Eastern Ave, University of Sydney



Sydney Ideas

Part two of the Living in a Warming World series convened by Dr Frances Flanagan and Michelle St Anne.

Climate change has the potential to significantly accelerate inequality.  Low income and precariously employed Australians tend to live and work in areas more susceptible to temperature extremes, and in buildings less able to withstand them. They are less able to afford the cost of energy required for air-conditioning, have less access to public green space, shaded recreation areas, pools and schools with facilities for learning in extreme weather. At the same time, rising inequality in Australia is making it harder to tackle climate change. Elites in highly unequal societies pollute more, waste more water, emit more carbon dioxide, and produce and consume more products that are designed not to last. Highly unequal societies are less democratically responsive, and are more likely to accept climate change ‘solutions’ that are premised on the privatisation of ‘liveable space’. This panel will bring together speakers who make the case for the necessity of seeing climate change and inequality as entwined challenges.


Professor Kate Auty, ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment
Professor Marc Stears, Sydney Policy Lab

Series Chair

Professor Christopher Wright, University of Sydney Business School


Kate Auty is the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment and a Professorial Fellow with the University of Melbourne.

Other recent roles included Vice Chancellor’s Fellow (University of Melbourne), Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability (2009-2014), Chair of the Ministerial Reference Council on Climate Change Adaptation (Victoria 2008-2010), member of the Victorian Premier’s Climate Change Advisory Council (2009-2010), and a City of Melbourne Climate Change Ambassador developing the Future Melbourne Plan 2026 (2015).

She was previously a member of the advisory board of AURIN, and chair of the advisory board of NeCTAR, and she continues as a member of the advisory board of the ACSEES (MDBA).

Kate was a director on the Board of the AWiA Ltd in 2017 and she continues on the boards of MSRF Ltd and The Rescope Project Ltd. She chairs the North East Water Community Energy Advisory Board and the Board of the Banksia Foundation Ltd. In early 2018 Kate agreed to be co-opted to the board of Sustainable Business Australia.

Marc Stears is the director of the Sydney Policy Lab, at the University of Sydney.  He was formerly the Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation, Professor of Political Theory and Fellow of University CollegeOxford and chief advisor and speechwriter to Ed Miliband.  He is the author of many books and articles that engage with the development of progressive political movements in the UK and the USA.

Christopher Wright is Professor of Organisational Studies and a member of the Discipline of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Sydney Business School. His research explores organizational and societal responses to climate change, with particular reference to how managers and business organizations interpret and respond to the climate crisis. He has published on this topic in relation to issues of corporate citizenship, emotionology, organizational justification and compromise, risk, identity and future imaginings. He is the author of the book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction (Cambridge Uni Press, 2015).