CSIRO announcement welcome but more to be done

03.08.16 By
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The Climate Council has welcomed news that the new Science Minister Greg Hunt has ordered the CSIRO to revive climate science as part of its central focus following widespread community and international backlash.

It was today announced that Minister Hunt had ordered the board and executives to put the focus back on climate science, just months after the national science agency slashed climate staff and programs.

The new strategy will create 15 long-term jobs in climate analysis and forecasting.

“This is a very positive step and we congratulate the Minister for taking aboard the very clear message from both the community at home and the international science community that we need a strong and robust CSIRO,” The Climate Council’s Professor Will Steffen said.

“2016 has underscored why now is the time to be increasing our climate science capacity, not slashing it. This year will almost certainly be the hottest on record globally for the third year in a row and Australia has experienced its warmest autumn on record.

“Record-breaking sea surface temperatures driven by climate change have driven the worst coral bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef’s history, with parts of the reef now in total ecosystems collapse.

“And bushfires driven by record hot temperatures razed parts of ancient World Heritage forests in Tasmania.”

Professor Tim Flannery said the Minister’s actions was evidence of the government’s ability to have a significant impact on the direction of the CSIRO.

“But the government’s failure to intervene from the outset has set back Australia’s climate science enterprise, including the loss of some world class scientists from CSIRO,” he said.

“This is a very welcome step but nothing less than the full restoration of Australia’s climate science capabilities will be an acceptable outcome from the perspective of the science community at home and abroad.

“In fact, to meet its Paris commitments, Australia is required to grow their climate science capacity.”

Professor Lesley Hughes said the Minister’s comments that he wanted to be “a chief science advocate” to the government were very promising.

“The public and the international science community will be holding the government to account on that as we know that it’s only when science is an absolute bedrock of our approach to climate policy and the energy transition that we’ll be in a position to effectively tackle climate change,” she said.

For media enquiries, please contact Jessica Craven on 0400 424 559 or jess@climatecouncil.org.au