Australian climate research body out of funds | Connect Asia

Australian climate research body out of funds

Australian climate research body out of funds

Updated 26 February 2013, 16:18 AEDT

One of the key research bodies charged with preparing Australia to address the impacts of global warming is in trouble.

After just over five years in operation, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research facility is running out of money.

The Australian government hasn't extended its funding and from June it's expected to be wound up.

Correspondent: Sarah Clarke.

Speakers: Jean Palutikof, National Climate Change Adaption Research Facility; Antony Sprigg, Australian Green Infrastructure Council; Nathan Fabian, Chief Executive Officer, Investor Group on Climate Change

SARAH CLARKE: Set up by the Howard government, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility was given $30 million when launched.

Its job was to develop the knowledge that decision-makers from both the Commonwealth and industry needed on how to best deal with the impact of climate change.

Five years later, it's fostered 140 projects across 33 universities around Australia.

Professor Jean Palutikof is the director at the facility.

JEAN PALUTIKOF: We've built up a lot of knowledge through our research programs that have really placed Australia in a very good position to deal with the challenge.

There are a lot of people out there now who know a lot about climate change and those people were not in that position five years ago".

SARAH CLARKE: But come June, the Commonwealth money dries up.

There's been no commitment to extend it or help it continue co-ordinating those projects. And more than 100 researchers will be affected nationally.

The facility's director Jean Palutikof says she's saddened and concerned that critical work may not being followed through.

JEAN PALUTIKOF: The bottom line is that the activities of government in that respect of the present time are totally inadequate and therefore we are also going to have to prepare ourselves to respond to the impacts of climate change that will inevitably happen because we haven't really managed that successfully on the mitigation front.

And when I say we haven't managed that successfully, I'm really talking about the total global effort, not the effort of Australia individually.

SARAH CLARKE: Members of the organisation had hoped that this was the first step in a nationally coordinated approach to addressing the impacts of climate change.

The Productivity Commission highlighted initiatives by the facility as proof that Australia was getting on with the job.

The chief executive officer at the Investor Group on Climate Change, Nathan Fabian, says the organisation has helped to keep industry up to date.

NATHAN FABIAN: Business is largely still working out what it knows and what it doesn't know about the physical impacts of climate change and to us, NCCARF has played an important interpretive role between the science of climate change and its impacts on regions and resources - and in some cases the assets that we invest in. So there is still an important role to be played.

SARAH CLARKE: But the organisation's director Jean Palutikof says despite the urgency of the issue, with the Federal Government and state governments cutting spending, she's not confident the organisation will survive.

JEAN PALUTIKOF: We might be seen as an organisation that perhaps is meeting a future challenge rather than a current challenge - although I have to say looking out of the window here in Queensland, it looks to me like the challenge is pretty much here now.

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