Australians react strongly to the abolition of the Climate Commission

By Stéphanie Chuffart, Visiting Fellow

Aus DesertOn September, 19, 2013, Australia’s Climate Commission -a body established to provide independent information about climate science – was abolished by the Government of the newly elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The Abbott Government also abolished the federal department and minister that were dedicated to climate change, reincorporating them into the general environment department and ministry.  To continue their work, all the former Commissioners have established a not-for-profit organization, the Climate Council. . . .

Like the Climate Commission, the Climate Council is independent and apolitical. Within a week, the Climate Council raised $1 million of private funding and received very strong support from many in the public.

Tim Flannery, the outgoing head of the Commission, told the Guardian Australia: “The people who contacted us feel very strongly that they don’t want to be left in the dark over climate change. We’ve had hundreds of people get in touch from, I must say, across the political spectrum, from hardcore libertarians to the deepest greenies. You would be astonished to know who is supporting us.”[1] Answering commentators alleging that the Climate Council could become beholden to special interest donors, Flannery moreover stated: “It will be in our constitution that we will not accept money from anybody that tries to tie us or influence us in any way [..] Our independence is our credibility, so we will be very clear on that.”[2]

One of Prime Minister Abbott’s major campaign promises was to repeal Australia’s carbon price, which was implemented in 2012 by the previous Labor government, and to in turn abolish the Climate Change Authority, a body in charge of providing independent advice to the government on the carbon price and emissions reductions targets. Hopefully, the strong support from the Australian community in favor of the Climate Council will make the Abbott Government think twice about these plans.

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