Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and United Nations climate envoy, has criticised the proposed cuts to CSIRO climate science in a speech made at the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute.
The highly-decorated former politician was last year a United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change.
Last night she said she was concerned about proposed cuts to long-running climate science programs.
“I acknowledge Australia’s continued commitment to climate research into adaption and mitigation measures,” she said.
“It’s imperative that research funding levels are not just sustained but increased.”
The chief of Australia’s premier scientific body, CSIRO, Dr Larry Marshall announced structural changes to the agency in February, paring back efforts to observe and measure climate change and instead emphasise research into how Australia should prepare for it.
The cuts have been condemned around the world, with an open letter from nearly 3000 international scientists calling on Dr Marshall to reconsider his plans.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) co-chair and even the World Meteorological Organisation also spoke up against the proposed cuts.
Ms Robinson, a career diplomat, was forthright in adding her voice to the chorus.
“Research is an investment in our shared future. It’s not a luxury.
“To make informed decisions we need access to the best information on the climate system and adaptation and mitigation responses, so I urge Australia to continue to provide leadership in all aspects of climate change research.”
She urged Australia to be among the first in the world to ratify the so-called Paris Agreement when it is ready in April.
She also spoke of the “deeply concerning” approach Australia’s conservative Liberal-National government has taken towards refugees, noting that with climate change, people fleeing unrest and dangerous situations is only likely to increase.
“The rule of law has a role to play, but so too do human rights and the values of human dignity that bind us together as a human race.” Ms Robinson added.