Climate Change and Older South Australians - COTA SA Statement of Interest

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Climate Change and Older South Australians

Through extensive consulation with older South Australians including two surveys, we have developed climate change infographicand revised our Statement of Interest on Climate Change.

We launched the Statement and shared the findings from survey at a webinar, Generations Together for our Climate. We are proud that this webinar was offered in collaboration with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) as an intergenerational approach is vital to tackling climate change.

We have also formed a Climate Change Group, made up of older South Australians plus volunteers from AYCC, which will offer a program of activities to meet these objectives in 2020-21

You can get involved by:

COTA SA Statement of Interest on Climate Change

Older people, like many Australians, are concerned about climate change. Older South Australians, like other generations, see climate change as a significant and real threat to our national interests.

COTA SA's surveys indicate that older South Australians have reviewed the science and have seen the impact of climate change often firsthand. There is a prevailing view that the scale of the crisis has not yet been met with an adequate response from our leaders despite the consequences of inaction.

Over the last ten years, the number of days over 40 degrees in Adelaide has more than doubled. The impacts of climate change will worsen into the future. Rising sea levels threaten coastal areas and heatwaves and droughts will ravage inland areas. The scale of the damage depends on the actions that we take now.

Marginalised communities are hit first and hardest by the climate crisis including people in low socioeconomic groups, rural communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, older people and people from new migrant backgrounds.

The bushfires that burned across the country over the summer of 2019/20 were a reminder to many older people that climate change is no longer a future prospect but is impacting our health, well-being and livelihoods now.

When asked about the bushfires in early 2020, older South Australians made the clear link between the fires and climate change and more than 65% Agreed or Strongly Agreed that "Human activity is the reason for climate change". They noted the impacts of the fires on their lives, with many noting both physical impacts (from smoke or evacuation) and effects on mental health and wellbeing.

Older people do not believe the government - at all levels - has been leading on climate change. Very few older people think that the federal, state and local governments are handling climate change well or very well. Older people are resolute in the need for action with more than 81% agreeing that "The economic cost of preserving the environment is worth it".

Older people are concerned about climate change for several reasons. 85% say they want to leave a world for grandchildren and/or future generations that is healthy, productive and sustainable and 84% want to enjoy clean air and natural and green spaces around the state, country and the world.

There is also a real desire to contribute to the prevention of, and adaptation to, climate change; to debunk the myth that older people do not care about climate change; to ensure older voices and efforts add value to the voices and efforts of other age groups and to stop the negative impacts of climate change on the health, well-being, cost of living and enjoyment of all people.

Many older people are already active in their communities on climate change. They volunteer, they knock on doors, they plant trees, they contact elected representatives and they get involved in efforts to build a more sustainable future.

COTA SA takes the threat of climate change seriously and has committed to join the movement for action on climate change. COTA SA aims to -

  • Facilitate learning about why climate change matters, how climate change impacts lives and what can be done.
  • Reflect the concerns of older people to support action on climate change.
  • Learn from and share stories of older people taking action on climate change.
  • Partner with other generations and organisations to support their work, find opportunities for collaboration and increase the influence and opportunities of older people to tackle climate change.

Statement revised September 2020 as a result of survey feedback

Download a PDF of the statement here

Climate Change Group

Our Climate Change Group, made up of older South Australians, will offer a program of activities to meet these objectives in 2020-21. We invite all older South Australians to be part of our work.

COTA’s Climate Change Planning Session on 27 May 2021 at the Joinery

On May 27, the Climate Change Group held a planning session at the Joinery. Find out all about it below:

Three main themes emerged from the planning session as guidelines for COTA’s future involvement in Climate Change:

  • COTA as an educator and information provider to COTA members
  • COTA as an advocate and lobbyist as part of holding business firms and Governments to account
  • COTA to work in partnership with other organisations and age groups in its climate change activities.

Three main areas of concern dominated the discussion:

  • Investment and superannuation – specifically how these could be directed to improve Climate outcomes
  • South Australia as a (Net) Zero state by 2030
  • Fossil Fuels – specifically how to reduce carbon emissions.

Other areas of group concern but which received a lesser rating were:

  • Health effects of climate change
  • Solar for renters
  • Reducing our personal carbon footprint at home
  • Voting for the Greens.

The key projects which were discussed:

  1. a webinar on superannuation and investments which informed where funds invest and all about Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) investments and their performance. This could be a cross-generational webinar (Investment area of concern).
  2. expanding on this to identify firms and funds to hold accountable for their climate change (and ESG) investments (Investment).
  3. writing to key organisations and associations (e.g. Business Council, American, Chinese and Indonesian Chambers of Commerce) asking what they or their members have in place to reduce carbon pollution (SA Zero, Fossil Fuels)
  4. promoting and lobbying for electric vehicles – for individuals and industry and recognise new electric vehicle charging stations (merit certificates) (SA Zero, Fossil Fuels)
  5. creating a coalition to deliver a YouTube channel to provide practical information on sustainability and how to get to Zero e.g. on electric versus conventional vehicles, “grey imports” of electric vehicles from Japan, carsharing, air quality impacts of conventional vehicles (SA Zero, Fossil Fuels)
  6. meeting with SANTOS regularly (e.g. just before results seasons) holding them to account for actions on their Climate Change Plan (Fossil Fuels)
  7. lobbying SA Government on electric vehicle taxes and rail as an alternative to heavy transport (Fossil Fuels)

COTA SA Climate Change Group Members:

  • Barry Apsey (chair)
  • Marjorie Schulze OAM
  • Mike Rungie
  • Anne Burgess
  • Peter Croft
  • Jane Mussared
  • Paige Le Cornu (Volunteer Policy Officer)
  • Stephanie McGee (Volunteer Policy Officer)

Climate Change Group Steering Committee Update November 2021


Since our workshop the expanded Climate Change Group (CCG) Steering Committee has been progressing our agreed project work. We agreed to work on three fronts -

  • Approach companies regarding their plans and targets
  • Consider approaches to discuss energy policies in the light of the SA Government Climate Change Action Plan
  • Plan a future webinar.

It was agreed that we crawl before we walk, and effort has been put into the first of these projects with approaches to specific companies.

It has been encouraging in recent months to see significant and increasing concern expressed by business and investors to act on their responsibility to address climate change.

Read the full update

Find Out More or Get Involved

Stay up to date via our website here or see our E-news for regular updates. If you want to get involved, contact us on (08) 8232 0422 (Country Callers 1800 182 324) or cotasa@cotasa.org.au.