10 June, 2021

The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia:

  • Accepts the extensive scientific evidence that human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are major contributors to dangerous climate change and maintains that this evidence together with social science expertise should be the basis for effective policy and decision-making.
  • Recognises that without urgent and coordinated global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to and below net zero levels, climate change will cause significant damage to ecosystems, agriculture, infrastructure, the economy and the health and wellbeing of our global population.
  • Recognises that climate change is already being felt in Australia in the form of increased intensity of droughts and floods, increased intensity and frequency of bushfires and extreme heat, increased extinctions, loss of terrestrial and marine biodiversity, ocean acidification, and the loss of irreplaceable cultural heritage.
  • Recognises that the impacts of climate change and the costs of action are and will be unevenly distributed across society, leading to unfair burdens on vulnerable people and communities without effective, responsive and innovative policy.
  • Maintains that the changes required to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change will be less effective and more expensive the longer they are delayed. Further, that they will require leadership and coordination across all levels of government, as well as investment and innovation across the economy, including in primary industries, infrastructure and planning, resource and environmental management and health.
  • Acknowledges that innovation in areas such as renewable energy is creating new social and economic opportunities, and that Australia is comparatively well-placed to benefit from the transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • Maintains that to be least cost, most effective and fair, climate change action needs to be underpinned by coordinated national policy that is coherent, credible, responsive, enduring and skilfully designed. Policy decisions must be effectively implemented, transparently monitored, and honestly and systematically communicated to the public.
  • Asserts that it is Australia’s responsibility–as a wealthy and morally-principled country that is also among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change–to contribute to ambitious global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning to a decarbonised economy, and to supporting adaptation in our region.

Recognising the necessity of urgent action to mitigate the effects of climate change and transition to a more sustainable future, the Academy commits to using its own resources to:

  • Draw on the expertise of Fellows to work with and advise Australian governments, business and community groups on the development and dissemination of policies and programs that will deal effectively, efficiently and fairly with climate change at local, national and international levels.
  • Work towards carbon neutral operations and Climate Active certification by measuring, reporting on, reducing and offsetting emissions associated with its own activities.

This statement has been developed by the Academy following a resolution adopted at its 2020 AGM and in consultation with its Fellows.