The Australian Climate Institute has announced that it will cease operations by the middle of this year due to a lack of funding, heralding a telling sign for the country’s environmental and climate politics.
Originally intended to have a lifespan of only five years, The Climate Institute has served a vital role in Australia’s climate and environmental landscapes, serving as the only non-government organization solely focused on climate change. Over its 12 years, other agencies and organisations have popped up, but The Climate Institute (TCI) has served to deliver on a number of goals.
“TCI has conducted ground-breaking research; built influential strategic partnerships among business, investor, welfare, union and other community groups; achieved domestic and diplomatic public policy outcomes; helped shape change to the regulatory landscape and driven the evolution of financial sector climate risk management, particularly among superannuation and institutional funds, domestically and internationally.”
Unfortunately, the Institute is closing its doors due to an inability to acquire the funding necessary to ensure it could work at its established level.
“With the expiry of its original founding bequest, and despite ongoing support from a range of philanthropic and business entities, the Board has been unable to secure sufficient funding to continue the level and quality of work that is representative of TCI’s strong reputation,” said Board Chair Mark Wootton, who was among the original founding Directors and has been Chair since 2007.
“The Climate Institute has been a provider of pioneering research and a leading advocate for credible, practical climate policy throughout a tumultuous period in Australian public, investor and business decision-making. “
“TCI is often described as a trusted broker and critical friend, and we are proud of the way it has built understanding and consensus among a wide variety of stakeholders on such a complex, challenging and important issue. We are disappointed that some in Government prefer to treat what should be a risk management issue as a proxy for political and ideological battles. They are increasingly isolated as the costs of inaction mount and the opportunities and benefits of action become ever clearer.”
Over the 12 years of its life, the Climate Institute helped deliver on an expansion to the country’s Renewable Energy Target in 2008, and the implementation of the 2012 Clean Energy Future Act — which reduced emissions by approximately 40 tonnes over two years, even as the country’s economy grew. TCI has also been an invaluable actor in research and risk management, helping to find and highlight the impacts of climate change.
The Climate Institute was also responsible for the Climate of the Nation research series, which is now the longest trend survey of attitudes of Australians to climate change and its solutions.
Unsurprisingly, sadly, Australia’s current political landscape has not been conducive to strong climate and environmental policy, which in turn has only created more and more uncertainty for would-be investors. Writing in an op-ed for The Guardian, CEO of the Climate Institute John Connor highlighted the “toxic” atmosphere currently affecting climate policy.
“Because, while the politics sometimes smells like it did back when the institute began, the context within which it now operates is vastly different. The toxic politics and short termism which seeks to make climate change a proxy issue for ideological and political wars, rather than one of risk management, is simply unsustainable.”
The Climate Institute will carry on until June 30, ensuring a core body of projects reach fruition. TCI’s Board will also work with other organisations to ensure that key aspects of its work continue beyond its death.
“While challenges still abound, the landscape is much stronger than it was twelve years ago when TCI was first established,” concluded Wooton. “The Board is proud of the achievements of The Climate Institute, and its staff, in making an enduring contribution towards its 2050 vision of a resilient Australia prospering in a zero-carbon global economy, participating fully and fairly in international climate change solutions.”
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.