Planned cuts to CSIRO’s climate science division would breach Australia’s commitments under the Paris agreement and leave a gaping hole in the world’s understanding of climate change in the Southern Hemisphere, our new report has found.
Flying Blind: Navigating Climate Change without the CSIRO examines the local and international ramifications of the recent decision to cut over a hundred jobs from the agency’s climate science staff.
1. The cuts to CSIRO’s climate science will damage Australia’s ability to understand, respond to and plan for a changing climate.
- Governments and business rely on climate science to make billion-dollar decisions. Without it, they will be relying on guesswork. 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.
- Climate modelling is the backbone of our ability to predict changes in the climate system, information that is vital to adapting to climate change and to building preparedness for our worsening extreme weather events. Cutting further model development will leave us dangerously exposed to the escalating risks of climate change.
- Farmers and firefighters will be particularly exposed if Australia’s climate science capabilities are reduced. CSIRO research is assisting farmers with tools and technologies to manage during more frequent and severe droughts. Climate science also supports bushfire responses by providing the knowledge underpinning high fire danger weather warnings and fire behaviour predictions.
2. If the cuts proceed, Australia will have already reneged on a key promise in the Paris climate agreement.
- Australia, along with the rest of the world’s nations, agreed to strengthen climate science as a fundamentally important component of meeting the climate change challenge.
3. The cuts will leave a gaping hole in the international science community’s ability to understand climate change in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Australia has the strongest climate research capability in the Southern hemisphere. Without it, the ability of the international scientific community to understand the changing atmospheric and oceanic circulation in this hemisphere, and what this means for the risks of climate change in our part of the world, including Australia itself, will be significantly diminished.
- Almost 3000 scientists across 60 countries have written an open letter to highlight how these cuts will significantly limit CSIRo’s capacity and diminish the global climate change research effort.
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