Public Outcry Resurrects Australia's Climate Commission

Many Australians are extremely perturbed about the country’s about-face on climate change since conservatives won the national election.

Within days of entering office, Prime Minister Abbott dissolved the Climate Commission as promised – the independent scientific body the government set up to provide credible information to the public about climate change. His first piece of legislation will repeal the carbon tax and stop pursuing cap-and-trade, set for 2015.

Thanks to public outcry, just days later, the Climate Commission is being resurrected.

It’s not being brought back by the government – it’s being turned into a privately funded organization under the name, Climate Council. Tim Flannery, who has been heading the Commission, told The Guardian they have been deluged by emails and calls from people pledging financial support. 

"The people who contacted us feel very strongly that they don’t want to be left in the dark over climate change. We’ve had hundreds of people get in touch from, I must say, across the political spectrum, from hardcore libertarians to the deepest greenies. You would be astonished to know who is supporting us."

Flannery will continue as head of the new organization and will not take a salary. It plans to continue its work through annual subscriptions and "Obama-style" donations from the public.

"It will be in our constitution that we will not accept money from anybody that tries to tie us or influence us in any way," he told The Guardian. "Our independence is our credibility, so we will be very clear on that." 

So far, the Commission has produced 27 reports on climate change since it formed in 2011. Notable reports include "The Angry Summer," about last year’s record-breaking summer in Australia, and The Critical Decade, which makes it clear that extremely swift action must be taken on climate change, leaving Australia’s fossil fuels mostly in the ground. Its first work as the Climate Council will be to summarize and clarify the IPCC climate change report, due out this Friday.

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