CSIRO paying lobbyist on fringe of climate and energy debate

The Australia Institute is today releasing a new FOI showing that the CSIRO pays membership fees to the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) of $10k a year.

The CSIRO is an associate member of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), the mining lobby group known for its forceful campaigns against effective action on climate change.

“The Minerals Council has been on the fringe of the climate and energy debate in Australia, opposing policies that would tackle emissions effectively,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said.

“It defies commons sense that the CSIRO, an organisation that researches climate change and develops renewable technology, gives money to a lobby group that campaigns against effective climate policy and against policies that would increase renewable energy.

“One of MCA’s main functions is to lobby to change government policy. In its 2013 annual report the MCA boasts it ‘was at the forefront of the debates over the carbon and mining taxes; and their abolition (expected after July 2014) will be in no small part due to the council’s determined advocacy on both issues.’

“The MCA lobbies against renewable energy policy, such as the Renewable Energy Target and more recently the Clean Energy Target as recommended by Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel.

“The Minerals Council has also been involved in recent attempts to hobble the advocacy role of charities and environment groups. “

“It is not appropriate for the CSIRO to continue to me a member of this increasingly extremist organisation,” Oquist said.

“While the Commonwealth’s key scientific research organization effectively funds political advocacy for the coal industry, it works to prohibit its own staff from commenting on national science policy.

“While funding lobbying against the Chief Scientist’s recommendations, leaked emails show internal unrest at CSIRO about the national science agency ‘missing in action’ on providing advice on climate change.

“CSIRO should have been the first member to leave the MCA due to climate concerns, but that honour went to AGL last year.

“AGL quit the MCA citing its position on climate change and renewable energy. CSIRO should follow suit,” Oquist said.

In 2016 AGL left MCA stating: ‘AGL’s positions on climate change and renewable energy differed from those held by the Minerals Council of Australia and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, and AGL has elected not to renew its membership of these organisations.’

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