Front doors to PG&E headquarters blocked by four activists on scooters and sitting. Huge banner on ground in front of them reads Unplug PG&E Not Us. Disability justice club
Disability and climate justice activists

There is little information in the public domain about impacts of climate on a range of vulnerable populations in Australia. Issues for disabled people are one of these areas. We have gathered resources relating to disability and climate justice here as a starting point.

Climate impacts on disabled people are finally being taken seriously at the UN level. The UNHCR adopted a resolution on climate change and the rights of people with disabilities. This resolution calls on governments to adopt a disability-inclusive approach when taking action to address climate change.

You can learn more about resistance led by disabled people in the documentaries Weird and Wonderful and Defiant Lives.

Resources on Disability & Climate Justice

The need for collaboration

There has been little collaboration between environmental/climate organisations and disability organisations. This is one area where we could use the opportunity of shared challenges to work together.

An example of clash instead of collaboration is the issue of plastic straws. Many able bodied people see straws as an easy thing to give up. “Low hanging fruit” if you will, in terms of plastic pollution. However, they make life possible for people with disabilities, and no suitable alternative exists. Disabled people have been frustrated that they have not been listened to. Inappropriate solutions have been suggested, and there has been little collaboration about how to approach the issue.

People with disabilities want to save the planet. We also need to be able to drink. These two positions do not have to be mutually exclusive. Banning plastic straws entirely is not the answer.

I Need Plastic Straws To Drink. I Also Want To Save The Environment (Huffington Post article)

People with disability are equally concerned about environmental issues and the impact plastics make… but we need to consider the unintended consequences that a total ban would have on people with disabilities, It really impacts on people being able to go out in public, drink in public, socialise, and participate in public life and in the community.

Pro Bono News

As part of the environmental movement, plastic straws, which enable around one in four people with my disability to drink, will soon be banned in all drinking establishments. Yet things we could all do without – plastic packaging, six-pack rings and polystyrene cups – remain unregulated and freely flow into our oceans.

The climate revolution must be accessible – this fight belongs to disabled people too (Hannah Dines)