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October 14th 2013 print

Alan Moran

Same snouts, different climate troughs


The IPCC, at least in its Policymakers Summary, continues to promote ever shriller forecasts of doom.  But it can no longer deny that those prophecies have been mugged by almost two decades of data that show temperatures obstinately refusing to rise and climatic disasters maintaining their established patterns.


To many, the 2013 IPCC report reveals climate alarm as an empty vessel. There is no warming, no oceanic current reversals, no loss of Arctic ice, no increase in hurricanes, no monsoonal collapse.

The science aside, recognising the shifting politics, around 2010 Commonwealth officials started downplaying their humanity-saving activities.  Publicising the grants and the staffing levels was gradually replaced by deconsolidating them to hide the extravagance.  The apogee of this process was reached with the Abbott government’s recent dismantling of the Climate Change Department and the burying of its former personnel inside other agencies.  Job descriptions would have been modified to cleanse them of the taint of climate actions.  As 2013 has progressed we have seen increased spending and staff lock-ins to moderate the threats of a political change on five years of empire building and taxpayer funding for the green left.

Rent-seekers within business started hedging their bets by offering greater support to Coalition politicians.  Wind farmers, whose product relies totally on subsidies, were turning up in great numbers at Liberal fund-raisers.  This complicates the efforts to dismantle the green-inspired waste and negative added-value which would never be easy as incumbent interests’ attempts to protect “assets”.

Negative value added within the public service

Those Commonwealth public service employees that can be identified as promoting greenhouse taxes, subsidies and other such measures are estimated at approaching 6,000. The bulk of these, based on staffing levels available for previous years, are in the CSIRO, which has been re-orientated from providing scientific and technological assistance to promoting the global warming scare.  Over 3,500 of the 6,400 personnel employed in 2008 appeared to be largely engaged in climate change work. Is any wonder Australian warmists were so prominent in the IPCC reports?

Treasury and the ALP-appointed Ross Garnaut joined other agencies in propaganda exercises using conjured-up figures purporting to show that the sledgehammer attacks of carbon taxes, renewable requirements and funding of utterly uncommercial solar projects would have only trivial effects on the economy.

Indeed, they offered soothing noises that such measures would leave us all much better off in the carbon-free Nirvana that they assured us beckons.  They and other agencies concentrated on demonstrating that vague proposals from China, Japan, Korea, NZ and India proved that there was growing support to replicate the lemming-like abatement measures of the EU and Australia.

The staffing dedicated to climate change in other agencies (using their pre October names) include:

  • Agriculture                 480
  • Foreign Affairs & Trade            100
  • Infrastructure & Transport        50
  • Industry Innovation etc (excl. CSIRO)    490
  • Resources & Energy             320
  • Sustainability etc                720
  • Treasury                 100

Government Funding of NGOs Promoting Greenhouse Measures

Of course, the funding extended well beyond public service employment.  Dozens of research businesses benefitted from the burgeoning spending.  “Renewables” requirements, ramped up to a cost of $5 billion a year, provided profitable opportunities.  In addition, “clean energy”  grants and support disbursed by the Industry, Agriculture, Energy, and Environment departments amounted to some $4 billion a year.  Much of this has already been abandoned by the Coalition but its own “direct action” plan might yet add more.

Some of budgetary funding was used to create non-government agencies, staffed with friendlies, often beneath the universities umbrellas.  Among those readily identifiable are:

Melbourne Energy Institute: Spends one million dollars a year and has 2012/13 funding of $3,133,000 from the Commonwealth renewable energy program, plus $76,000 of funding from the Consumer Advocacy Panel.  Additional funding comes from Rio Tinto, GE Energy and Arup.

Research activities include carbon capture and storage, electricity market design, optimising emission abatement, wind farm syndrome, measures to accelerate renewable take-up, “Climate change and justice for Timor Leste”, Zero Carbon Abatement, facilitating photovoltaic revolution, and organic solar cells.

ClimateWorks: Produces many reports on energy savings, promotes low carbon growth plans and is active in submissions to public bodies.  It is housed under the Monash University’s Sustainability Institute (MSI).  MSI’s identified funding in annual report comprises $4.3 million, mainly from various Commonwealth sources (Ausaid, ARC, DAFF, DRET and others) but with $158,000 from local authorities and $50,000 from the Victorian government.

Seed funding appears to have been originally financed by a grant facilitated by former speaker Anna Burke and the Myer Foundation.  Climateworks is chaired by ultra-green former Victorian Environment Minister John Thwaites (now a “professor” in the Labor-friendly University); his former staffer, Anna Skargill, is the CEO.

Grattan Institute: Climate change issues are central to its prominent energy research.  This researches and advocates energy efficiency and market issues and has a major focus on carbon tax and related matters.

Housed within Melbourne University, Grattan was funded by $30 million in grants from the ALP Commonwealth and Victorian governments plus $4 million from BHP Billiton, grateful to the Commonwealth for favours it extended.

What is to be done?

The existence of considerable bodies of climate action promoting personnel within the public service and in government financed agencies not only represents waste but means continued pressure to maintain and amplify imposts on enterprise that adversely affect industry competitiveness.  A priority must be to cull these bodies and their funding.

Alan Moran is the Director of the Deregulation Unit of the Institute of Public Affairs.