CSIRO cuts will breach Paris climate agreement, cost economy

CSIRO cuts will breach Paris climate agreement, cost economy


Job cuts at Australia’s premier scientific organisation, CSIRO, will leave the conservative Liberal-National government ill-prepared to deal with climate change or meet its commitments under the Paris agreement.

That’s the view of the climate change think tank, the Climate Council.

CSIRO-beach-rubbish-examineThe CSIRO recently announced it would halve the number of employees in climate science, with around 100 jobs to go from two main monitoring and modelling programs.

The council has looked into the local and international impact the change will have.

Its report, Flying Blind: Navigating Climate Change without the CSIRO, released today, found the cuts would damage the country’s ability to plan for or respond to climate change.

It warns that government and businesses rely on climate change science to make billion-dollar decisions, which could be put in jeopardy.

“For example, the design of Brisbane Airport’s new runway, built on a low-lying coastal fringe, was informed by the latest sea-level science from the CSIRO,” it said.

professor-will-steffen-climate-councilCrucial information about climate change in the Southern Hemisphere could be lost and farmers and firefighters will be particularly exposed if climate science capabilities are reduced.

“Cutting climate science now, as the demand escalates for both adaptation and mitigation strategies, is like flying into a violent storm and ripping out the radar, navigation and communication instruments,” Professor Will Steffen said.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Professor Steffen added.

UN-COP21-logo-Paris-summitIf the cuts go ahead the country will also have reneged on a key promise from the Paris climate agreement to strengthen climate science.

“The recently announced cuts to climate science mean that Australia has already reneged on one of its obligations under the Paris commitments,” it concluded.

Dr Larry Marshall CSIRO chief executiveCSIRO boss Dr Larry Marshall recently told a Senate committee the restructure decision emerged after consultation within the agency and would meet the body’s innovation strategy.

The report adds to a chorus of eminent bodies and individuals criticising the move, which the CSIRO made after almost no consultation with its own scientists or other research institutions.

Earlier in the month it was revealed CSIRO would be cutting up to 350 staff from climate research programs over two years.

tony-abbott-parliament-Liberal-PMThe Climate Council, which produced the new report, is a crowd-funded body that seeks to provide authoritative information on climate change to the community.

It was created after the Liberal-National government under then Prime Minister Tony Abbott disbanded the Climate Commission when it took government in 2013, and seeks to perform the same job.