The Climate Commission: one year on

Amber Jamieson
Crikey

Australians are concerned about climate change and they think Australians should take action to reduce carbon emissions, says the Climate Commission in its first “year in review” report, released yesterday.

The seven-page end of year report is fairly general, but outlines that many Australian businesses are already preparing for a carbon price and many communities. It names the Illawarra region as particularly proactive in bringing together businesses, politicians and community groups in helping to combat climate change.

The aim of the Climate Comission is engage to provide independent and authoritative information for the general public on climate change issues. The Commission has held 15 public forums, 15 business and local leaders forums and launched 10 reports in its first year (the commission was established last February). A significant 92% of feedback from attendees said they found community forums good or very good.

A wide cross section of Australians have been attending the Climate Commission forums — which have been held at 11 regional centres — with the report noting: “We have heard from thousands of Australians, including steel workers, reef tour operators, sugar mill owners, car factory workers, local councillors, state government officials, business and industry leaders, school students and teachers, doctors, and farmers.”

“After travelling around Australia, it quickly became clear that the political and media debate is not the whole picture. For the most part, we found that people want more than talk and they’re ready for action,” said  Chief Commissioner Tim Flannery.

“Many businesses have already planned for a carbon price and we’ve been impressed by the number of companies that are embracing clean energy solutions that make sense for their bottom line and the climate. We’ve also heard concerns in the business community about regulatory uncertainty.”

The Climate Commission is made up of its chief Tim Flannery, Roger Beale, Dr Susannah Eliott, Gerry Hueston, Professor Lesley Hughes and Professor Will Steffen.

Part of the Climate Commission’s terms of reference state: “The Commission will not comment on policy matters nor provide policy advice or recommendations.”

And you can see the Commisson battle to keep the policy out of the science matters — obviously difficult when one of its aims is to help explain carbon pricing — in its end of year report:

“There is considerable confusion in the community about the Australian government’s carbon price and the progressive move to emissions trading, and also about the Opposition’s plans for direct action on climate change. Many businesses indicated that regulatory certainty is particularly important to their decisions on investing in the future.

Although the Commission does not advocate any particular policy position, it has sought to explain how carbon pricing encourages reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and drives investment in cleaner energy and energy efficiency.”

The end of year review comes as a Galaxy poll of 1051 people, paid for by the Institute of Public Affairs, recently found that 31% of respondents saw Flannery as reliable. In contrast, 24% found him unreliable. The majority — 45% — were uncommitted.

The Commission says it hopes to focus on social media in the coming months (you can find it on Twitter at @ClimateComm) as part of furthering its community engagement.