People, Environment

Australia Risks Missing Climate Commitment

Australia Risks Missing Climate CommitmentAustralia Risks Missing Climate Commitment

Job cuts at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation will leave Australia ill-prepared to deal with climate change or meet its commitments under the Paris agreement, the Climate Council says.

Earlier in the month it was revealed that the CSIRO would cut up to 350 staff from climate research programs over two years. Over the following weeks, the organization’s chief executive Larry Marshall explained that would result in a loss of about 50% of the staff working in climate modeling and measuring.

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 on Monday, 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, Sky News Australia reported.

‘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 says.

Crucial 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. It just doesn’t make sense,” Professor Will Steffen said.

If the cuts go ahead, the country will also have reneged on a key promise from the Paris climate agreement to strengthen climate science.

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

However, The Guardian reported that it was revealed in Senate estimates that CSIRO executives did not consult with organizations like the Bureau of Meteorology who depend on CSIRO modeling until 24 hours before the cuts were made public.

Even Ken Lee, the director of the division that would take the brunt of the cuts was only told about the cuts four days before they were announced.