Donors help reopen axed Australian climate watchdog

Sep 24, 2013
A bushfire burns out of control in the Kiewa Valley, Australia, on February 10, 2009.

An independent Australian climate change watchdog axed last week by the country's new conservative government was resurrected Tuesday as a non-profit body funded by public donations.

Formerly known as the Climate Commission, the rebranded Climate Council will continue public information campaigns about the science of , emissions targets and international action.

"Make no mistake, we're in the middle of a Titanic struggle, indeed I think that the fight for a clean and safe environmental future is reaching its peak," Tim Flannery, who previously headed the commission, said.

"The resistance and the disinformation just keep growing. That's why we are here today."

The body was dumped last week by new Prime Minister Tony Abbott—who once described the science behind man-made climate change as "absolute crap"—in a bid to find savings and trim the civil service.

Flannery said a huge groundswell of public support for the commission had prompted him to resurrect the watchdog as a publicly-funded operation, with donations pouring in at a rate of Aus$1,000 (US$940) per hour since midnight.

"Over the last week we've really been blown away by offers of support and donations," Flannery said.

Scientists monitor reef sharks in a picture handout by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, on September 19, 2013.

"Most people told us to keep going and they really appreciated our reports and information, in fact many of them found our work vital to what they do."

Flannery said the nation's fire and rescue services needed to be prepared for increasing danger, particularly in the south-east, where the devastating 2009 Black Saturday inferno killed 173 people and razed entire villages, while hospitals and medical services ought to brace for more frequent and intense .

Rising sea levels would pose a real threat of inundation to Australians, more than 85 percent of whom live near the coast, and farmers needed to be informed about changing , he added.

Flannery said the new council would operate with much the same mandate as the previous commission, which was established by the previous Labor government in 2011 to provide reliable information on climate issues.

The commissioners would initially volunteer their time to get the council off the ground while capital was being raised "Obama-style in small donations online from the public, from ordinary Australians".

"It will be a fiercely independent and apolitical body focused on providing the facts," Flannery said.

Australia, which is among the world's worst per capita polluters due to its reliance on coal-fired power and mining exports, has just experienced its warmest 12 months on record.

Its last summer, the hottest ever recorded, witnessed an unprecedented heatwave, bushfires and floods.

Explore further: New Australian PM abolishes climate watchdog

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New Australian PM abolishes climate watchdog

Sep 19, 2013

Australia's new conservative government on Thursday abolished an independent climate change commission set up by the previous Labor administration, as part of its plans to streamline bureaucracy.

Australian climate on 'steroids' after hottest summer

Mar 04, 2013

Australia's weather went "on steroids" over a summer that saw an unprecedented heatwave, bushfires and floods, the climate chief said Monday, warning that global warming would only make things worse.

Most coal must stay in ground to save climate

Jun 17, 2013

Most fossil fuels must remain in the ground because burning them will unleash changes that will "challenge the existence of our society", a new Australian government agency report warned Monday.

Australian parties snub tobacco money

Aug 22, 2013

Australia's ruling Labor party pledged a ban on tobacco company donations if returned to office Thursday and the conservatives followed suit, ordering an end to campaign funds from cigarette firms.

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

Apr 18, 2014

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

( —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 24, 2013
"...has just experienced its warmest 12 months on record."
Naah. Coincidence.
"...Its last summer, the hottest ever recorded, witnessed an unprecedented heatwave, bushfires and floods."
Coincidence, dammit!!!! (sarcasm)

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...