The Australian Climate Commission was a government-funded but independent body of climate experts, set up to study the impacts of climate change, and to give expert advice to the Australian public on climate change. As one of its first orders of business, last week the incoming, right-wing Australian government abolished the country’s Climate Commission. However, the body has now been independently relaunched as the Climate Council, with the same commissioners and head, Tim Flannery.
Flannery has said that immediately after the Climate Commission was axed by the Abbott govt, the climate commissioners were deluged with communications from hundreds of Australians who wanted the work to continue, and there were also offers of financial support. Flannery maintains that the show of support was from “across the political spectrum”.
The new Climate Council will operate with the help of donations from the public, but the former climate commissioners will not be paid this time, and Flannery has emphasised that the council will not be swayed by the corporate interests. “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”, Flannery said. The Climate Council will be funded by donations from the public, and has already received around 1,000 donations.
Flannery added that, “We’ve been blown away by people’s generosity and we hope more and more people will join that move to donate and ensure the message remains strong.”
The new environment minister, Greg Hunt, responded to the reemergence of the body by saying, “The fact that this can be done at the private level shows that taxpayers’ funds were not required from the outset.” The new government is expecting to save $580,000 by not funding the climate commission, and maintains that the work of climate change analysis will now be shared among other departments.