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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Australia's New Government Cuts Climate Panels
19 September 2013 1:00 pm
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—On its second day in office, Australia’s new conservative government has fulfilled an election promise by shuttering the independent Climate Commission. It also began drafting legislation to abolish a second government body, the Climate Change Authority.
Both organizations were established by the previous Labor administration. The commission was designed to provide the public with an “independent and reliable” source of information about the science of climate change, as well as global policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The authority’s role was to advise the government on the operation of carbon abatement programs and other climate change initiatives. The moves are part of a larger overhaul spearheaded by the new government.
Critics aren’t happy. “These sorts of issues are not going to go away just because we ignore them,” said Ian Chubb, Australia’s chief scientist and a member of the Climate Change Authority, prior to the decisions.
Tim Flannery, an environmental scientist formerly of Macquarie University who led the disbanded Climate Commission, said the decision was misguided, especially in light of an increase in “propaganda” aimed at playing down the potential threats posed by climate change. “I believe Australians have a right to know, a right to authoritative, independent and accurate information,” he said. “We desperately need a well-informed public, especially in areas of complex policy.”
New Environment Minister Greg Hunt said dumping the commission would save AUD $580,000 this fiscal year and $1.6 million in coming years. Its role will be subsumed into the environment department.
The new government is also taking steps to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, tasked with managing AUD $10 billion in renewable energy projects, and to repeal Australia’s carbon tax. In comments on 18 September, Hunt criticized the corporation as a “green hedge fund” that risked taxpayers’ money on speculative ventures.
The newly elected government, under Prime Minister Tony Abbott, instead favors a “Direct Action” fund, capped at AUD $3.2 billion, that would fund carbon sequestration efforts and reimburse businesses for the costs of reducing emissions. (Abbott dismissed climate change as “absolute crap” in 2009.)
Today’s moves follow on the heels of the Abbott’s decision not to appoint a science minister.