The Abbott government's plan to make scrapping the Climate Commission and the Climate Change Authority among its first priorities will deprive Australians of independent information on global warming just when it is needed most, leading scientists say.
Staff at the Climate Commission, a federal body set up to publicise climate-change science, have all but ceased work as they await instructions from new Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
The Climate Change Authority, a statutory body that will need a change in legislation before it can be axed, is continuing work on a draft report due out next month. That report will recommend the level of cuts to greenhouse gas emissions Australia should set and also details international efforts to combat climate change.
''It's really important that the Australian public have access to authoritative, independent, accurate information on climate change, and that's exactly what the Climate Commission did,'' said Will Steffen, a professor at the ANU and a Climate Commissioner.
''Unfortunately, the science has been sucked into this vortex of a highly politicised approach to climate change. We've got a rapidly destabilising climate. It does pose risks for us.''
The new government is also drawing up legislation to scrap the carbon price and has ordered the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation to cease lending.
The Coalition has offered in their place its Direct Action plan to pay polluters to cut emissions, saying the scheme will be cheaper and still meet the bipartisan goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020.
The moves, though, come shortly before the United Nations is due to release the fifth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Tim Flannery, head of the Climate Commission, said it had held dozens of public meetings around the country and no other body existed to serve that role.
''Given the highly contested and political nature of this stuff, you need a body that's trustworthy,'' Dr Flannery said.
Professor David Karoly, a member of the Climate Change Authority who also serves on the science advisory panel of the Climate Commission, said the new government's actions were well flagged. He said the question, though, was ''what will the future think of the people who voted for this action?''
Professor Karoly also noted comments by Maurice Neuman, expected to chair the Abbott government's Business Advisory Council, attacking the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology for propagating the ''myth of anthropological climate change''. ''He's obviously an important adviser to the government and he's misinformed about climate change,'' he said.
Mr Hunt declined to respond to questions from Fairfax Media.
The story Scientists say climate cuts leave public in the dark first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.