Tuesday, 24 September 2013

AM: 21/9 Abbott decision to scrap Climate Commission criticised by UK climate action institute

Abbott decision to scrap Climate Commission criticised by UK climate action institute
Mary Gearin reported this story on Saturday, September 21, 2013 08:07:00
ELIZABETH JACKSON: The Prime Minister's decision this week to scrap the Climate Commission has attracted criticism from overseas.

The Grantham Research Institute in The London School of Economics, is one body that's long advocated more action on climate change.

Its policy and communications director, Bob Ward, spoke to our Europe correspondent Mary Gearin.

BOB WARD: Well I think most people from outside Australia will find this a very strange move. For any government, having a source of independent expert advice on an issue that's as complicated as climate change is really invaluable. And for Mr Abbott to decide that he doesn't want to listen to the experts anymore because he doesn't want to have to deal with climate change is a bit like somebody saying 'I want to get rid of cancer by not listening to the doctors anymore'. It's a completely inexplicable and incomprehensible decision.

MARY GEARIN: Why can't the government rely on experts outside of the Climate Commission - other scientists, other scientific communities within Australia?

BOB WARD: Well one would expect Mr Abbott to listen to all the experts, but all the best climate experts - or most of the best experts - were on the commission. That's an incredibly valuable resource for those scientists to be willing to devote their time to giving the government advice. And Australia now must be wondering whether the government is going to be able to make good decisions if it's decided that it doesn't want to have a commission that gives them expert independent advice about climate change.

MARY GEARIN: Doesn't Tony Abbott have the right to determine his own government's agenda?

BOB WARD: Mr Abbot is free to do anything he wants, but I think he serves the people, and the people will want to know that Mr Abbott is well-informed about the issues that he's making decisions about. Deciding he doesn't want to listen to independent experts about climate change doesn't seem to me like he is being sure about making well-informed decisions.

MARY GEARIN: The Grantham Institute and you personally have come under fire for not supplying independent viewpoints, as you put it. And is it the case then that the Climate Commission and many other bodies haven't won the fight yet; are still struggling to be seen as independent and neutral?

BOB WARD: There's a fairly weak line of argument that opponents of action on climate change use, which is essentially that if you don't agree with their point of view, you're somehow compromised. The fact is that universities are a good source of independent expertise. They don't rely on governments telling them what to do. 

Now politicians may not like the advice that they're getting, and they don't even have to act upon it. But if they decide they're not even willing to listen to the experts, then I think Australians must be asking themselves: 'how is Mr Abbott going to make sure he's making well-informed decisions about climate change?'

ELIZABETH JACKSON: That's Bob Ward, from The London School of Economics' Grantham Research Institute, speaking to Mary Gearin in London.

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