Griffith University: The ‘Difficult Conversations’ we need to have

Griffith University is hosting a series of cutting-edge discussions around the Difficult Conversations we need to have about climate justice during COP26.

Griffith’s Climate Action Beacon, a cross-disciplinary team with climate action expertise across science, health, business, creative arts and law, will present the Difficult Conversations Series from November 1-5 2021 at the State Library of Queensland.

With the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), to be held in Glasgow form Oct 31-Nov 12, Professor Brendan Mackey, Director of the Climate Action Beacon said there is no better time for CAB to help motivate climate action from communities to governments and to take a deep dive into the difficult conversations we need to have around climate change.

The livestreamed event, comprising expert workshops and public forums around five major themes of climate justice, are part of CAB’s dedication to ensuring that climate actions are fair, equitable and just, and contribute to broader sustainable development goals.

Each day will shed light on a specific climate justice related topic, with nightly events open to the public. Topics include:

What are the ethics of climate protest? (Day 1: Monday, 1 November, 5pm)

As the global climate crisis intensifies, and local and international activism is pulled in opposite directions along economic, social, racial and ideological lines, we need to ask what are the ethics of protesting or not protesting climate change? Are the protests accessible for everyone or just the privileged? Should demonstrations be violent or peaceful? And, crucially, how can we make demands for a liveable and just future without causing further harm to those suffering historical and current climate injustice? In the face of woefully inadequate leadership and action on climate change, this is a serious conversation that needs to be had.

What becomes of the uninsurable? (Day 2: Tuesday, 2 November, 5pm)

With natural disasters in Australia and around the world on the rise, exacerbated by climate change, the uptick in extreme events creates a new level of uncertainty for insurers. From droughts and bushfires to cyclones and floods, Australia is particularly susceptible to these environmental disasters taking a severe socioeconomic toll. Despite rising insurance rates, people are being left under-protected against natural disasters as coverage and payouts against ‘acts of God’ plummet. With greater wealth disparity on the horizon and homelessness due to deflating property values in disaster-prone areas, the need to understand insurance in a climate-changed world has never been more urgent.

Will Australia end up with ghost towns? (Day 3: Wednesday, 3 November, 5pm)

As the climate changes, the map of human settlement in Australia is also set to change, with some towns being abandoned altogether. Here in Australia, climate change related human mobility and displace is not yet a public concern, but when people are forced to leave their homes it is sure to raise political, economic and social frictions. What consequences does climate migration have for planning and policy? How will it impact the allocation of public resources? What influence will it have on how we perceive our ethical standards and moral duties? And, how can we ensure people who need to move can do so with safety, security and dignity?

What health risks will climate change bring? (Day 4: Thursday, 4 November, 5pm)

Climate change has put the health of our planet in serious danger but what risks lie ahead for the health of our species? As the world’s climate, and our way of life fundamentally changes, serious physical health concerns are emerging. Respiratory illnesses, heart failure, stroke, cardiovascular mortality, transmissible diseases and even family violence are all expected to worsen as temperatures rise. Rates of anxiety, depression, dementia, and psychological exhaustion are also forecast to increase with predictions of up to 1 billion climate refugees escaping natural disasters by 2050. With the unparalleled environmental adversity that lies ahead how do we prepare for the effects it will have on our bodies and minds?

What does urban climate justice look like? (Day 5: Friday, 5 November, 5pm)

When we think of climate change, we think of the effects on our natural environment, but there’ll be effects on urban environments too. Urban climate justice recognises that the impacts of climate change will not be equitably shared. Climate change will intensify existing urban problems. Access to affordable and sustainable housing will become more and more difficult, with access to urban transport becoming increasingly unequitable, and investment into urban/suburban infrastructure, technological and communications networks divided along socio-economic lines. We need to begin the conversation on these potential conflicts in our urban spaces as a result of climate change and the ways we can address them.


The Difficult Conversations Series will also share learnings, video and photography from the Climate Justice: Deep Listening Tour that sought to understand how rural and remote Queensland define climate justice and what climate justice issues are most important to them.

If you are interested in getting involved, contributing to the expert workshops, or joining the live public forums, please contact with Natasha Hennessey n.hennessey@griffith.edu.au.

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