Climate Change Authority Conflicted, Out of Step With Public Opinion

The potential conflicts of interest in the Climate Change Authority (CCA) are evident in today’s release of research promoting the potential of carbon storage in Australia, according to The Australia Institute.

The scientific consensus is that fossil fuels must remain in the ground for the world to remain within the safe bounds of global warming. The CCA’s systematically ignores Australia’s plans to expand fossil fuel production in Australia and continues to provide advice that emissions from fossil fuels can be offset or stored underground.

The Climate Change Authority is a statutory agency legislated to give expert climate advice to the government, yet it ignores the science and public expectation of independence and integrity.

Key points:

  • Today’s report commissioned by the CCA and the administrator of Australia’s carbon offset scheme the, Clean Energy Regulator, emphasises the potential of biological and geological carbon storage to store fossil fuel emissions.
  • The report is the third since the May election to focus on carbon offsets and sequestration and ignore the Australian Government’s plans to increase fossil fuel production in Australia.
  • The IPCC warns that fossil fuel emissions must be halved within 11 years if global warming is to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • Four of the CCA’s nine members are closely linked to the carbon offset or fossil fuel industry, including CCA Chair Grant King. Mr King is the chair of Australia’s largest carbon offset aggregator, GreenCollar.
  • The Climate Change Authority Act prohibits paid employment that might conflict with the proper performance of the board’s duties.
  • Australia Institute polling shows:
    • Three in four Australians (75%) agree that members of the CCA’s board should not also be employed by companies or organisations that could be affected by CCA’s recommendations and advice. 
    • Three in four Australians (76%) agree that the CCA should be chaired by a climate scientist.
    • Three in four Australians (74%) agree that the CCA should be mandated to give advice based on best practice climate science. One in ten (9%) disagree.

“It is entirely reasonable to expect that our climate policy is informed by science and independent evidence, not industry interests” said Polly Hemming, Senior Researcher at The Australia Institute.

“The CCA is publishing research and advice that appears to reflect the interests of its board, not the scientific need for rapid decarbonisation.

“The science and economics is clear – we need to dramatically cut fossil fuel emissions now and offset whatever remains later.

“Despite what science and extensive research says, the CCA seems uninterested in phasing out fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency or economy wide carbon pricing.

“The emphasis is all on offsets and the fantasy of ‘future technology’.

“Our research shows that Australians want serious climate action, based on science.

“Across all political persuasions, Australians want the CCA to be chaired by a climate scientist.

“Australians are almost unanimous that they want vested interests out of climate policy.

“75% agree that members of the CCA’s board should not also be employed by companies or organisations that could benefit from its decisions.

“Today’s CCA publication just shows what the Australian public already knows – it’s time to get industry interests out and science in to climate policy.”

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