A changing climate touches on every conceivable part of our lives, including how and where we work and live, how we feed ourselves, how we get around, how we look after each other, and how we spend our spare time.
In taking climate change seriously, we can see that the move to a low- or no-carbon economy and society is non-negotiable. We have to transition away from fossil fuels and we have to do it as quickly as we can.
What does have to be negotiated, however, is how that transition plays out. Rather than leave it to the usual privileged special interests, a transition that is just is one that is democratic at heart.
But our democracy, like our climate, has been left battered and bruised, and has been co-opted by the few at the expense of the many.
What a Just Transition offers is the chance to take the reins of where we might head. To be democratic, however, it must be built from the ground up, with the opportunity for everybody to be involved in laying the groundwork.
Whatever solutions emerge out of our current system, it seems they will continue to exacerbate the ecological damage and inequality that define our current ways of doing things. When democracy gives away to corporate rule, how can it be otherwise?
But maybe there is another way, one that takes the lead from those who bear the brunt of our current ills and have long been excluded from political process, but who nonetheless possess the kinds of know-how and fortitude needed for the transition to a decarbonised society, including here in South Gippsland.
The land where we live, work and organise was never ceded. The sovereignty of this land has always been contested. A Just Transition cannot rewrite this country's history, nor alleviate its traumas, but it can begin to give up the all or nothing logic that governed the founding of this country and which still underpins so much of Australian society.
A transition away from fossil fuels can also be a transition away from the mindset of unsustainable extraction that has long governed more than our mining industry. And South Gippsland can be at the forefront of the movement.
Southern Gippsland spans Bunurong and Gunai-Kurnai country. We acknowledge that this land is unceded and pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging. A just transition is one that allows for First Nations sovereignty.
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