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'Climate Cuts, Cover-ups and Censorship', courtesy of the Morrison Government

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(Image via Climate Council)

The Coalition Government’s climate performance over the past five years is the defining leadership failure of the past decade, according to a detailed report from the Climate Council.

The Climate Council’s report, ‘Climate Cuts, Cover-Ups and Censorship’ provides a detailed overview of the Australian Government’s approach to climate change since the election of the Liberal-National Coalition Government in 2013.

The period is characterised by slashing climate science funding, cutting effective climate change programs, rejecting the expert advice of national and international bodies, senior ministers making publicly misleading claims, a lack of credible climate policy and consistently covering up poor performance.

This is the defining policy and leadership failure of the last decade.

The Climate Council rates the Federal Government’s climate performance over the past five years as the defining leadership failure of the past decade:

  • The Government’s tenure has been characterised by slashing climate science funding, cutting effective climate change programs, rejecting advice from expert domestic and international bodies, misleading claims from Federal ministers, a lack of any effective climate programs, and consistently covering up poor performance.
  • Deep funding cuts and job losses at the CSIRO have weakened Australia’s climate science capability. As a result, Australia is unprepared to cope with the impacts of climate change.
  • Effective programs have been abolished or scaled back — for instance, half a billion dollars was cut from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), while the Renewable Energy Target (RET) was slashed.

The Government’s lack of climate change action is the defining leadership failure of the past decade.

The Federal Government has covered up poor performance with misleading claims, dubious accounting and censorship:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions have risen for four years running. Australia is unlikely to meet its 2030 emissions reduction target according to the Government’s own department. Regardless, senior ministers continue to falsely claim that emissions are going down and targets will be met.
  • In 2016, the Federal Government censored a UN report about climate change and World Heritage sites, asking the authors to remove any reference to Australian sites.
  • The Federal Government has consistently delayed releasing information on Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, often publishing data just before Christmas when it faces less scrutiny.
  • The Government has used discredited accounting methods, for instance including land-use emissions or Kyoto “carryover credits”, which makes its record look better than reality.

The Government’s lack of climate change action is the defining leadership failure of the past decade.

We have not tackled climate change, the consequences are with us and we must work very quickly to prevent catastrophic consequences:

  • Delaying action has not made the problem go away. It has just shortened the time we have left to reduce emissions and made it more challenging to do so. The Federal Government has squandered its tenure and that will cost us dearly.
  • Australia has missed many opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition our economy in the cheapest, most gradual and effective ways possible.
  • Australians are on the frontline of worsening extreme weather. Heatwaves have become hotter and last longer, droughts, intense rainfall and dangerous bushfire conditions have become more severe and now test the limits of our coping capacity. We must now address the accelerating consequences of climate change and we are unprepared.
  • As Australians experience escalating consequences into the future they will likely view this period of missed opportunities and failed leadership with deep dismay.

Australia’s next government must adopt credible climate policy and a transparent and accurate approach to reporting and tracking Australia’s climate performance to ensure the public can appropriately evaluate its performance:

  • The Federal Government needs to urgently adopt credible climate policy to help protect Australians from the rapidly escalating risks of climate change.
  • The Climate Council has established a ‘Charter of Integrity’ for the Federal Government to use as a benchmark to track and monitor climate performance, specifically around issues of accountability, transparency, timeliness and accuracy.

This article was originally published on the Climate Council website under the heading 'Climate Cuts, Cover-Ups and Censorship’' and has been republished with permission. 

 
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