Climate Council faces ‘titanic struggle’, says Tim Flannery
Donors to reborn climate body include ‘James of NSW’ who gave first $15, and former Defence Force chief Chris Barrie
- theguardian.com, Tuesday 24 September 2013 15.21 AEST
Tim Flannery has said that Australia is set for a “titanic struggle” over how to deal with the challenge of climate change, as he revealed further details on how his “Obama-style” funded Climate Council will operate.
Flannery, who last week lost his job as the head of the Climate Commission after the government axed its funding, announced the resurrection of the body on Tuesday morning under the new guise of the Climate Council.
The council will act “largely in the same way as the commission” according to Flannery, with a remit to inform the public of the impact of climate change. Instead of government funding, the organisation will be supported with donations from the public, with each of the former climate commissioners working pro bono.
The first donation came at midnight last night, a sum of $15 from “James of NSW”, Flannery said, with a further 1,000 donations since then. Nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition calling for the work of the Climate Commission to continue.
Details have not been released of other donors, although former Defence Force chief Chris Barrie has confirmed he has provided funds, calling the work of the commission “fantastic”.
Flannery said: “We’ll be raising money Obama-style, via small donations made online from ordinary Australians, although in my view they are extraordinary Australians. They are the ones who have stepped up and recognised the need and sacrificed just a bit to ensure the job gets done.
“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.
“We [the former climate commissioners] agree that without an informed public, Australia is unlikely to make the decisions to safeguard us against a dangerous climate.
“This work is really important to me, personally. When you look at the business-as-usual projections for climate change, I can tell you the outcome looks horrific. I’m filled with horror at the thought of those young Australians facing that dismal future. In fact, it is utterly unacceptable.”
Flannery added: “Make no mistake, we are in the middle of a titanic struggle. Indeed, the fight for a clean and safe future is reaching its peak. We can, and indeed the science tells us we must, in the next few decades shift decisively away from fossil fuels and to a clean energy technology.
“Resistance and disinformation keep growing. This isn’t a time for giving up; rather it’s time for determination, for standing up for what’s right.”
Flannery said the Climate Council will be apolitical and “fiercely independent”. Its first work, to be conducted by former climate commissioners Lesley Hughes and Will Steffen, will be distilling the message of the upcoming IPCC climate change reports.
Greg Hunt, the environment minister, said that the rebirth of the commission as the Climate Council vindicated the government’s decision to scrap the body.
“That’s how democracy should work,” he told the ABC. “If people want to invest in those with a particular view, they have a right and a freedom to do that, and our job is to make sure that we deal with the core scientific agencies, that we protect the taxpayers’ funds.
“The fact that this can be done at the private level shows that taxpayers’ funds were not required from the outset.”
The government predicts it will save $580,000 this year and $1.6m in future years from ditching the Climate Commission. The work of providing analysis of climate change will be shared among the Department of Environment, the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO.
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