Just last October, Turnbull promised to put science at the centre of Australia’s agenda. Later in December, at the UN climate negotiations in Paris, he held firm that science and research are of utmost importance in Australia’s ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Now, the proposed cuts to 350 CSIRO jobs, which could potentially remove 50% of the existing climate measuring staff, is entirely telling of what Turnbull really thinks is important. It is clear that the change in government has in no way stopped the inactivity towards the dismantling of the meaningful climate policy that his predecessor began.
Coal prices are plummeting; yet there are a worryingly high number of elected members of Parliament who will do all in their power to protect the dying industry, and to put climate change and science in the bin. Why are they doing this? Because the fossil fuel industry has a very powerful and nasty hand in our elected MPs back pockets. For every dollar donated by fossil fuel companies to political parties, the fossil fuel industry receives $2000 back in the form of subsidies. These subsidies have been held in place for far too long, and are protecting an industry that would rather leave us with no clean air or water, than submit to the rules of the “free market” that they believe so readily in.
The Paris agreement in December and the upcoming election, however, have given us incredible momentum to demand accountability. Australia agreed to 1.5 degrees of warming, and that is what we should stick to. Anything less is utterly unacceptable.
Politicians have a vested interest in maintaining their power, and will never aim higher than what is demanded of them. Last Wednesday, more than 120 people rallied outside of Parliament House, to demand an end to the looming cuts. Politicians joined us in saying that the cuts could not go ahead, not in a time when we need even more investments into climate change research. Independent, Labor and Greens Senators made promises to use the Senate to put the cuts under scrutiny.
The weeks to come will see this momentum brought onto campus. The movement will be amplified by the voices of students – voices that are too often not heard. It is our future jobs and our future climate that is in danger. Young people should not have to inherit a world that is unable to mitigate the risks of climate change, and cuts to science, given the realities our environment faces today, would put us directly on that path.