November 10, 2013 – When Australia’s new Conservative government came to power in the recent election they immediately began dismantling the country’s green legislation and bodies focused on climate change. That’s because the new government under Tony Abbott are firmly in the climate change denier camp.
First to go was the Climate Commission, a government funded body ($580,000 Australian annually) that provided information to the public on the impact and potential solutions to deal with climate change. The Abbott government was also the first in a long time to dispense with a Minister focused on science.
Another body, the Climate Change Authority also appears to be on the way out. This latter body is responsible for providing advice on carbon emission targets. But since Abbott plans to rescind Australia’s carbon tax as soon as legislation can be drafted it appears that the Authority will no longer have much authority or anyone to advise.
So what to do? Well the Climate Commission has been revived as a not-for-profit called the Climate Council and it has done this by raising $800,000 Australian ($730,000 U.S.) through crowdfunding in a campaign launched on its Facebook page. It took only 3 days for Aussies to chip in to fund the Council.
Not to be silenced by the new Conservative government which in its new climate action plan has stated it will not achieve the 5% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions the nation pledged at Copenhagen in 2009. Instead the new government has asked agriculture and industry to provide voluntary targets for reductions and has provided a capital pool of $3.2 billion Australian over four years to help them achieve their stated goals.
The revived Commission under the name Climate Council has released the first of what will be many reports. The story it tells is not encouraging. Australia in its 2012/2013 summer experienced the hottest January, the hottest summer, and the hottest day ever recorded.
For September 2013, the beginning of Australia’s spring, the country experienced its warmest in history with national temperatures 2.75 Celsius (4.95 Fahrenheit) degrees above the average between 1961 and 1990. Australia’s average temperature for the period from October 2012 to September 2013 was 1.25 Celsius (2.25 Fahrenheit) degrees above the long-term average and 0.17 Celsius (0.3 Fahrenheit) degrees warmer than any previous 12-month period prior to 2013.
When leadership chooses to be blind it puts on shutters. But crowdfunding for a cause is becoming a social media phenomenon and this crowdfunding initiative is probably the first to be used to bring back an axed government agency, apolitical and focused on providing accurate, science-based information on climate change.
Consider the bushfire outbreak on the western outskirts of Sydney following the 12 hottest months in Australia’s history, it seems that global action on climate change is coming from the grassroots and not from elected officials, at least not Down Under.