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How far will the climate purge go?

Julie Bishop talks to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The Coalition says the Environment Department will provide independent advice and analysis on climate change.

Julie Bishop talks to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The Coalition says the Environment Department will provide independent advice and analysis on climate change. Photo: Andrew Meares

The axing of the Climate Commission should be no surprise. Environment Minister Greg Hunt has long flagged that it would go if the Coalition was elected.

Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government. 

The concern is whether the move is symbolic of a government that does not care about climate change.

After all, there are a lot of other climate bodies in its sights - the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation - not to mention the carbon price. It is tearing down more than it is putting up.

In a week, the world's leading climate science body - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - will hand down perhaps the most important document on global warming. The six-year assessment of the status of climate change - how fast it is occurring and what threat it poses - will be long and technical. It will be almost impossible for the average person to navigate.

Having institutions such as a Climate Commission to distil such complex and confusing information is critical for a functioning democracy. To quote Thomas Jefferson: ''Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government.''

The Coalition says it axed the commission as part of its plans to streamline the government. The Environment Department will continue to provide independent analysis and advice on climate change, it says.

Fair enough. It is the prerogative of a new government to organise the institutions at its behest in any way it sees fit.

But in removing the commission - which cost just $5 million over four years - the onus is now on the Abbott government to ensure its role is replicated elsewhere. Climate change might be complex, but it poses a significant danger to humanity. And the public should be well informed, not misinformed.

Here's hoping that after the IPCC report is released, the Environment Department puts out an easy-to-digest summary for the public that outlines the report's key findings. And then that the summary is well publicised by government frontbenchers.

After all , Abbott - in between a few famous comments to the contrary - has often said he believes climate change is ''real, humanity does make a contribution to it and we've got to take effective action against it''. If he knows this, shouldn't we all?

635 comments

  • As Andrew Bolt's main reason to exist has gone, he should be purged too. Good bye Andrew.

    Commenter
    Tin
    Date and time
    September 20, 2013, 6:58AM
    • This is what happens when inferior minds make decisions based on ideology and populism. It is the hallmark of a bunch of politicians who really have no idea of what they are doing. This is a national disgrace. Rational reason has no place in their thinking. For a country with a very high standard of education, it is pathetic.

      Commenter
      rollo
      Date and time
      September 20, 2013, 8:04AM
    • I couldn't agree more Tin! He reflects the quality of the newspaper he writes for; now a dreadful propaganda rag for Murdoch.

      Commenter
      Roger Mayfair
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      September 20, 2013, 8:07AM
    • Bolt's program could now be a fantastic highlight reel summarising everything "teh awesome" Liberal Govt has done this past week.

      Commenter
      fishmilkshake
      Date and time
      September 20, 2013, 8:19AM
    • Andrew Bolt is as qualified as Tim Flannery to provide climate change opinion, but he doesn't charge me $180,000 dollars (part time) a year to do it.

      Commenter
      MoarPolitics
      Date and time
      September 20, 2013, 8:22AM
    • Yes, it was a shame that Bolt was able to do the research that showed Flannery's past predictions were wrong. The election was, to an extent, a referendum on whether the global warming fear mongers were still believed by the majority of Australians. The landslide results speak for themselves.

      As for the IPCC making summaries? One such summary pointed out that they were sure human activity was heating the Earth by around 1 Watt per square metre. Yet nowhere in that summary does it point out that the Earth is copping around 1000 Watts per square metre from the Sun, making their own figure for AGW as tiny as a 1 mm division on a metre rule. The Sun's activity only has to vary by 1% to have ten times the impact of the IPCC's own estimates.

      Just because someone's in a lab coat doesn't mean they won't spin like a Dervish when it comes to keeping themselves employed.

      Commenter
      Larry Mounser
      Date and time
      September 20, 2013, 8:26AM
    • Readers, there is no such thing as 'climate change'. That term was invented by a Bush adviser because it sounded less scary the very real concept of 'global warming'.

      Commenter
      Cathy Little
      Location
      Prahran
      Date and time
      September 20, 2013, 8:31AM
    • Andrew Bolt Pfft!.. Bolt criticising ABC bias ..yeah right coming from a Murdoch goon!!

      Commenter
      George
      Location
      East Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 20, 2013, 8:31AM
    • ...oh and to add to this the winding back of protections over World Heritage Listed forests in Tasmania and approval of dredging in the Great Barrier Reef. This government will be (or probably already is) an environmental disaster and a national disgrace.

      Commenter
      dfb
      Date and time
      September 20, 2013, 8:35AM
    • Totally agree Woody, it seems that people weren't listening to Abbott right up to voting day, they were listening to Labor but not heeding their warnings about how backward and divisive the Coalition would be in government.

      The only conclusion is that the voters' intention was not to consciously vote in a Coalition government it was to punish Labor for conducting their back room dealings in the front room and once the debacle is cleared and the party can show a united face to the electorate they will be reelected. Both Shorten and Albo have said that they will be competitive at the next election and after, what has it been ? 10 days of the malignant stupidity of this government, who could doubt them.

      Commenter
      havasay
      Date and time
      September 20, 2013, 8:39AM

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