Some of Australia's most important climate research institutions will be gutted as 350 jobs are cut at the CSIRO. Up to 110 positions in the Oceans and Atmosphere division will go, with a similar reduction in the Land and Water division. Data and Manufacturing divisions will also be hit.
It is believed that the cuts will leave just 30 staff in the CSIRO's Oceans and Atmosphere unit and they will not be working on climate issues. Remaining climate staff will focus on mitigation - cutting greenhouse gas emissions - and adaptation to warming impacts rather than gathering basic science.
The CSIRO Staff Association estimated that 1400 jobs had been lost at the organisation in the past two years.
National secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union Nadine Flood said: "This staggering attack on climate science is an act of political vandalism, pure and simple, and if the government doesn't back down on this it's ordinary Australians who will ultimately pay the price."
Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University, said: “CSIRO climate scientists are world class and are researching the most decisive factor that will influence the future of the world. To slash their numbers at a time when the urgency of understanding and responding to climate change has never been greater suggests that the Government does not want to hear the facts. At least Mr Abbott was upfront about his denial of climate science. This new phase is more insidious.”
Andy Pitman, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of NSW said: “It's a catastrophic reduction in our capacity to assess present and future climate change. It will leave us vulnerable to future climate change and unable to take advantage of any positives that result.”
Todd Lane, president of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, said the cuts had "the potential to devastate climate science in Australia".
"Not only does CSIRO play a key role in climate monitoring, it underpins all of the climate modelling activity in Australia. If that is cut significantly, it will set us back at least a decade and will undermine our ability to predict future climate risk."
Will Steffen of the Climate Council of Australia said it was “deeply disturbing” news.
“We absolutely need to know more about the basic operation of the climate system — how it is changing and how best can we respond to the climate change challenge,” he said in a statement. “The health, environmental and economic risks of climate change are just too large to sweep them under the carpet."