Abbott dumps climate watchdog, skeptics rejoice

Climate deniers are rejoicing over the abolition of Australia’s Climate Commission, along with the sacking of its commissioner, Professor Tim Flannery.

New Prime Minister Tony Abbott wasted no time in disbanding the nation’s climate watchdog on Thursday in order to deliver his election promise right after he was sworn into office. Plans to scrap other climate-related bodies are now underway.

Professor Tim Flannery, 2010 Australian of the Year, was the head of the Climate Commission until Sept 19, 2013. (Photo: Gemma Jones/ News Ltd)

Jo Nova, in her website, screamed, “Taxpayers rejoice! The science-propaganda agency is gone for good. One down — scores to go.”

Nova praised Abbott’s Coalition government in its decision “to cut waste and to stop funding an inept unscientific agency which was unbalanced to the point of being government advertising in disguise.” She said the commission wasted billions of dollars on useless and scientific projects, including desal plants, solar panels and wind farms.

Andrew Bolt also welcomed Abbott’s decision although he said the new Environment Minister Greg Hunt made one mistake when he sacked Flannery: thanking him for his work. ”Thank Flannery? Hunt should instead have asked Flannery how much of his $180,000 a year salary he’d refund after getting so many predictions wrong,” he quipped.

The Coalition Government will also dump the Climate Change Authority– set up in 2012 to provide independent advice to the government on the carbon price and emissions reductions targets, along with the legislation to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). Also set up in 2012, CEFC has been provided with $10 billion in funding over five years to support private investment in renewable energy.

All climate-related bodies will be streamlined under the Department of Environment.


Anti-wind turbines cartoon by Steve Hunter posted at Andy’s Rant’s website.

Abbott gained notoriety when he said saying climate change was “crap” and therefore not a priority in his government. The Greens have tagged him as a “climate criminal”.

Observers said climate change was a highly politicised issue between the right and left wing.

The Abbott camp alleged that climate change “is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.”

In an interview with the The Telegraph, Abbott admitted “the carbon tax has been a handbrake on the NSW economy” and scrapping the carbon tax will assure Premier O’Farrell that his top legislative priority will give an “adrenalin shot for local business…”

Alex White of The Guardian posted two reasons why Abbott wanted to scrap the pollution tax. One speculated Abbott was a skeptic, but the other was more politically compelling because climate change denial stemmed from “powerful vested interests in Australia, including the fossil fuel lobby, mining industry and carbon intensive corporations” which “are heavy donors to Mr Abbott’s Liberal Party.”

Major donors to the Liberal Party prior to the 2013 election, according to the Australian Electoral Commission include mining company Santos ($227,880), Clive Palmer’s Minerology ($459,900), nickel miners Minara Resources ($358,000) and Mincor Resources ($120,000), Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group ($50,000), and oil giant Chevron ($28,500).

The Labor leadership contender Anthony Albanese and Greens Senator Christine Milne are both distraught with Abbott’s decision to discard the climate commission.

Albanese said in a speech on Thursday the move to scrap the commission was “shameful”, while Milne said “issuing instructions to close the authority was irresponsible in the face of dangerous climate change.” She added that in the context of global warming, Abbott’s action was a crime against humanity.

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New Abbott gov’t heads for environmental disaster, expert warns

A day after Tony Abbott was elected as the new Prime Minister of Australia, conservation groups are already worrying about the future of environmental protection and sustainability in the country.

Under the new “management”, a term used by Abbott in his acceptance speech at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney, his government will put environmental issues on the back burner to get the business back on track.

Tony Abbott (top) won the 2013 federal election to become Australia's 28th prime minister beating Kevin Rudd who conceded defeat on Sept. 7.

Abbott won Saturday’s Federal Election to become Australia’s 28th prime minister, beating Kevin Rudd in an overwhelming victory.

In a reaction to his election, however, Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe from the School of Science, Griffith University said Australia’s newly elected government will be disastrous for the environment. He finds the Coalition Government’s policies on environment to be depressing, The Conversation reports.

Under the Liberal Party’s plan, Abbott will seek to abolish the carbon tax immediately, which he considers toxic and destructive for Australian businesses. The new PM also vowed to suspend the operation of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Citing New South Wales as an example of bad business affected by carbon tax, Premiere Barry O’Farrell has made it clear that the state’s black coal-fired power stations will suffer a loss in value of at least $5 billion because of the carbon tax.

Abbott will also abolish the mining tax which he claims undermines investor confidence in Australia as an investment destination and as a secure “supplier of resources.” By scrapping the tax, the Coalition aims to “restore confidence, stability and security for the industry, allowing it to thrive, create jobs and contribute to the prosperity of all Australians.”

Green groups have been alarmed at the Coalition’s plan to implement a One-Stop-Shop Environmental Approvals Process. The process will cut green tape and will fast-track approvals of new mining and other projects. Once it gives  green light to the petition lodged by the Business Council of Australia, the Coalition will offer State and Territory governments the opportunity to act as a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals. The States and Territories would then administer a single approvals process including approvals under Commonwealth legislation such as the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The Environment Defenders Office has already released a report that finds the One-Stop-Shop a process to streamline the process of environmental destruction. Read related article here.

Lowe said Abbott’s  proposal will turn the clock back 30 years on environmental protection.

“Since the Hawke government blocked the proposed Franklin Dam, successive governments – ALP and Coalition – have curbed the worst excesses of growth-oriented states, which are prepared to approve irresponsible developments. Even our National Parks are no longer safe,” he said.

Other plans in the Coalition pipeline include a go for mineral exploration activities; agricultural land exploration for seam coal gas; approval of uranium exports to India; examination of the potential of thorium as an energy source for export; and a review of the former government’s White Paper on energy and resources, among other things.

Relevant links to the new government’s policies are here, including resources and energy plans.

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