The proposed cuts made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to its research projects may breach the climate change deal that Australia made in Paris last year, says a report from the Climate Council.
Groups and members of the public have expressed their dismay over the decision, which according to reports, were made without consulting its own scientists and other relevant bodies.
CSIRO announced that it will make budget cuts, including to its labor force. The group estimates that it will have to let go of about 350 staff members from different climate research projects over a period of two years. CSIRO's Chief Executive Larry Marshall says this may result in about 50 percent of the staff members under climate measuring and modeling programs to be lost.
For example, in the Oceans and Atmosphere business, CSIRO has approximately 420 staff members. If the cuts will push through, only about 355 will remain.
Climate Council Response
In a report entitled "Flying Blind: Navigating Climate Change without the CSIRO," the Climate Council presented three key points with regard to the CSIRO's decision.
The first one is that the cuts will affect the ability of Australia to learn, respond and plan for climate change. For example, climate modeling research helps the country predict the possible impacts of the changing climate. Without adequate information, the country will be more exposed to the growing environmental risks.
Second, the report emphasized that CSIRO's will rift the promises that Australia made during the Paris climate agreement.
Australia joined the bandwagon of nations that committed to enrich knowledge about climate science. The country agreed that strengthening research is a key point to battle climate change. How can the country live up to this amid CSIRO's cuts?
Lastly, the authors say that the cuts will create a significant letdown to the ability of the international community to understand climate change in the south, where Australia is located.
Australia is said to top the list of nations with strong climate change research. Cutting down on funds and information will limit what experts can discover and do to mitigate climate change risks in the southern hemisphere.
In the end, the climate council stresses that it is important for Australia to maintain its world-class ability to be a reliable player in international science.
"CSIRO's climate research capacity and reputation should not be placed in jeopardy by short-sighted decisions, decisions from which Australia may never recover," the authors close [pdf].
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