THE Climate Commission has been abolished and work has begun to scrap the Climate Change Authority (CCA) in what has been described as a black day in the fight against global warming in Australia.
Headed by 2007 Australian of the Year Tim Flannery, the commission was set up two years ago by the former Labor government to increase public awareness of climate-change science.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt used the second day of the new coalition government on Thursday to phone Professor Flannery and inform him of the decision.
Prof Flannery said there was still a strong need for accurate information on climate change to be provided to the public to offset rising misinformation and “propaganda”.
He said about six to eight per cent of Australians were hardened climate sceptics.
“Without an informed public, we will go astray,” Prof Flannery said in Melbourne.
Australia had endured the hottest 12 months on record, with last summer breaking more than 120 heat records across the country, he added.
The commission’s work will be taken over by the environment department in an effort to streamline the process and save the budget $580,000 in this financial year and $1.6 million a year in running costs.
“In opposition, the coalition indicated publicly the Climate Commission did not have an ongoing role as it believed that providing advice on climate change is the role of the Department of the Environment,” Mr Hunt said.
Following Wednesday’s swearing in of the new Liberal-National government in Canberra, Mr Hunt also signed a departmental brief on Thursday to close the CCA.
Any move to scrap the CCA will require consultation with the authority and legislation to be passed by the parliament, which is due to return in late October or early November.
Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said Prime Minister Tony Abbott had demonstrated his contempt for climate science and the wellbeing of future generations.
“Today is a black day in the struggle against global warming,” Senator Milne said.
Labor leadership contender Anthony Albanese said the government’s actions were “shameful”.
Since its inception, the commission, which had a budgeted cost of $5 million over four years, had published 27 reports, held over 20 public forums and delivered hundreds of speeches on all aspects of climate change.